A true Falls Church legend, realtor, citizen, parent and business leader Merelyn Kaye died last Friday, Feb. 3. Her impact over the 30 years of her active contribution to this community is unmatched. In December 2021, she became the first ever recipient of the News-Press’ Lifetime Honor award.
The following was submitted to the FCNP by the Kaye family and is reprinted here in full:
Merelyn Shultz Kaye departed this earth on February 3, 2023 after fighting a long illness. She was the beloved wife of Arthur Kaye (deceased), mother to Kristin Karnis and Karin Morrison, grandmother to Jessica, Emily, Katherine, and Taylor, and great-grandmother to Inanna, Paul, and Ahnuway.
Merelyn was born on November 15, 1937 and grew up in Shepherdstown, West Virginia with her father Merle, mother Josephine, and brothers Jeff and Phil. She met her husband Art at a dance while they were attending Shepherd University and they shared their love of dancing throughout their marriage.
Merelyn and Art moved to Falls Church in 1965. A few years later they purchased their home “Woodbrook”, built in 1890 with a functional windmill and barn. She beautifully decorated the historic home with antique furniture and paintings and meticulously maintained the flower and herb gardens. She had a sense for beauty and style, both in her fashion and her surroundings. In particular, her table settings at family meals rivaled those of Martha Stewart, with fresh flowers matching her china and tablecloths.
In 1970 she obtained her real estate license and sold much of Falls Church with her husband Art and daughter Karin. She was a pillar of the Falls Church community for nearly 60 years through her work in the Village Preservation and Improvement Society, the Victorian Society of Falls Church, and Historic Falls Church Inc.
Merelyn had a special place in her heart for horses. She spent many years watching her daughter Karin and then granddaughter Taylor compete at horse shows around the country. She was always right there with them with every stride. When Karin and Taylor weren’t in the ring, her true calling at horse shows was bringing people together with her beautifully turned-out tailgates. She was always wearing one of her beautiful hats to match her outfits!
Services will be held at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church 3022 Woodlawn Avenue, Falls Church at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 11 with a celebration of life to immediately follow at the Hilton Garden Inn, 706 West Broad Street, Falls Church.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to St. Judes Childrens Hospital.
In the News-Press article announcing her as recipient of the FCNP Lifetime Achievement award, the News-Press’ Nicholas Benton recalled how Kaye advertised in the first-ever edition of the News-Press in March 1991, and remained in the paper every week since.
Benton recalled, “In fact, it was her commitment to spend extra for full color in her ad that became the centerfold for the paper in 1993 that marked a turning point. The News-Press had never done color up to that point, but her decision to add it changed everything. The color in the center of the paper allowed color to also be used on the front page, according to how papers are printed, and so for the first time, the News-Press was adorned with a front-page news photo (not an earth-changing event, just kids diving into a local swimming pool). It suddenly made the paper look well-to-do, as from that day forward the constant refrain about whether the paper would survive suddenly disappeared from local discourse.
“Merelyn Kaye’s long-standing relationship with the News-Press has always been about business, about a mutually-beneficial and respectful business relationship, which in the business world is as it should be. A mutual admiration society, perhaps.”
Also reported at that time, she was also, as Charlie Moore and Keith Thurston of the Historic Falls Church’s board, attested, “a stalwart supporter of the Falls Church community fabric with her participation and quiet financial support of many organizations.”
They wrote, “Beside her long term commitment to the Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS), she was a significant financial supporter of the founding of the Victorian Society of Falls Church. She was also the key sponsor for the launch of the New Year’s Eve Watch Night in Falls Church for over a decade, and without her support in its early years, “the annual celebration could not have occurred,”.
Working quietly and often behind the scenes, she had been on the board of directors of Historic Falls Church, Inc. and had been its president since 1995.
Moore said, “Merelyn is the consummate real estate professional working for the community’s good. She has always provided her expertise and her real estate services on a pro bono basis for preservation efforts.”
“It has been clear that she has been among a small group of influential community leaders quietly working to save the character of the City one house at a time,” Thurston added.