Lee Mercier

Lee Mercier

Lee Mercier remembers how hard his father worked as a General Electric Plant employee when he was growing up in Trenton, New Jersey. He also remembers his father volunteering to serve on the board of an orphanage, where Mercier attended Christmas parties for children who looked sad despite their gifts. Later, he learned that those were the children of workers killed in industrial accidents.

“They aren’t called orphanages anymore, but those experiences I had as a boy probably are why when a close friend talked to me about the Children’s Home Society [Buckner Division] I wanted to help. It wasn’t long before I was hooked, committed to the cause of trying to reunite families where possible, caring for children, offering services to children and families, including foster care and adoptions,” Mercier said. “The board work is important but I really like finding other volunteers.”

Mercier also cares greatly about individuals with developmental or acquired disabilities, whom he says are unfortunately sometimes regarded as, or feel like, society’s outcasts.
“People are often fearful or uncomfortable around those with disabilities and sometimes choose to ignore or avoid interaction which is exactly the wrong thing to do. That is why I volunteer for Pine Castle where these individuals are given opportunities to learn, work, socialize and live within the community,” he said.

Despite his busy legal practice, Mercier continues the volunteer work he began in the 1960s right after college when he joined the first group of Peace Corps volunteers to spend two years working in Ghana, South Africa. His personal faith and commitment to serve others was strengthened by that experience. He served in the military, was stationed aboard a destroyer in Jacksonville and later finished law school. Mercier describes his legal practice as faith-based.

“One of the things I do, and that I am committed to, is special needs trust work. In the process of helping my clients with estate planning, some have had special needs children. In those cases the trust planning becomes even more important,” he said. “I care very much about these special needs children and adults and I know how their parents loved them. I do whatever I personally can as trustee to ensure their wellbeing and that their parents’ wishes are carried out, as if they were my own family members.”

Mercier said his wife Roberta (Bobbie), a retired Episcopal French teacher, is his behind-the-scenes supporter. The couple loves their two-story brick home, the first one built in 1925 or 1926 in San Marco proper. They are active at their church, All Saints Episcopal.

Lee is past president and involved in South Jacksonville Rotary Club. A favorite activity is visiting San Jose Elementary to read to and tutor a young foreign student in reading and language skills.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

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