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Islip Baha'i community founder Doris Mercier dies

Doris Mercier, a longtime resident of West Islip and founder of the Town of Islip's Baha'i community, was known for her steadfast kindness and a devotion to sharing her faith with others, her family said.

"She was always trying to make everybody happy," her daughter, Nancy Franqui, 63, of Oakdale, said. "My mother would pray every day."

Mercier died Nov. 4. She was 87.

Born in 1923 in Manhattan, Mercier spent her early years in the city, where she met and later married Pierre Mercier, who survives her. In the 1950s the couple, who remained married for more than 69 years, moved to Bay Shore. Later they built a home in West Islip and raised three children there, Mercier's family said.

Franqui said her mother would often take the family to the beach. "She was outgoing, friendly, generous," she said.

While Mercier spent time caring for her family, she also became active in her community, her daughter said. Mercier taught yoga and devoted her life to Baha'i, she said.

According to the Baha'i of the United States' website, the faith was founded in Iran in 1844 by Baha'u'llah, whose followers believe is the most recent messenger from God in a line of men that included Buddha, Christ and Muhammad. The faith's core beliefs include that "the purpose of life is to know and worship God, to acquire virtues, to promote the oneness of humankind and to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization," the website says.

Marc Hensen, spokesman for Baha'i of Long Island and a friend of Mercier's for many years, said she was "one of the matriarchs of the Baha'i community on Long Island."

Her family said Mercier spread her faith by telling others about her beliefs and hosting study classes in her home. Franqui said Mercier served as the Baha'i librarian by keeping a large number of books about the faith at her home.

Franqui said Mercier served as the president of the Bay Shore Interfaith Clergy Association for several years, was on the Bay Shore Interfaith Council, and helped organize the annual Interfaith Choir Festival held in Bay Shore.

Mercier continued driving and swimming into her 80s. "She liked to get out and do whatever she wanted to do," her daughter said. "She was the glue that kept us together."

Mercier is also survived by her sons, Peter Mercier of Brentwood and Stephen Mercier of West Islip; six grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.

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