|Born||Margery Merlyn Baillieu
8 January 1900
Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia
|Died||3 September 1982(aged 82)|
|Spouse(s)||Sidney Myer (1920–1935; his death); 4 children|
Birth and marriage
Born as Margery Merlyn Baillieu in Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia, to George Francis Baillieu and Agnes Sheehan, a well-to-do couple, she attended Cromarty Girls' School, and the University of Melbourne. On her 20th birthday, 8 January 1920, she married Melbourne retail businessman Sidney Myer; she was his second wife. Her husband was originally named Simcha Baevski who arrived in Australia as a penniless Russian immigrant in 1899. He was a businessman and entrepreneur, who founded the Myer retail company.
The couple has four children: Kenneth, Neilma, Sidney, and Marigold, all of whom were born in San Francisco, California, United States. The family returned to Australia in 1929, where Sidney Myer died in 1934, leaving Merlyn a 34 year old widow with four young children.
At the time of his death Sidney was a member of the Board of Management for the Royal Melbourne Hospital and after his death Merlyn was asked to join the Board, on which she continued until 1976. She gave a lot of her time to the hospital. For 10 years from 1937, she was a member of the National Council of the Australian Red Cross Society. Merlyn was a generous benefactor of the Red Cross. She was the motivation for the establishment of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, in 1959, as a gift to the people of Victoria. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra was founded with a grant given by the Myers to the University of Melbourne.
In 1948, Merly Myer was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and on 11 June 1960, was elevated to Dame Commander within the order in recognition of her charitable work. Her title name became Dame Merlyn. The Merlyn Theatre at the Malthouse Theatre complex in Melbourne was named in her honour to mark the generosity of the Sidney Myer Fund, The Myer Foundation and the individual members of the Myer family who supported the conversion of the Malthouse Theatre.