Elizabeth “Sonny” Meng

MengElizabeth “Sonny” Meng, 90, on May 3, 2022, after a short stay at the Pines Nursing Home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Sonny was born on June 8, 1931, to Albert W. and Dorothy M. (née Walsh) Metz in Brooklyn, N.Y. She had two siblings, Dorothy and Bill. Sonny grew up in the tight-knit Gerritsen Beach community and spoke often of her happy childhood there.

Sonny met Heinz Meng while attending the State University of New York at New Paltz. They married on June 20, 1953, and spent most of their 63 years together living in a house that Heinz built in New Paltz.

Sonny taught at, and served in the administration of, the Campus School, the lab school of the education department at SUNY New Paltz, where she also taught in the biology and education departments. She earned her doctorate and, until her retirement in 2001, was a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. It was a not-uncommon occurrence for Sonny to be stopped by students from many years ago who wanted to tell her how much she had meant to them.

Sonny joined the newly formed New Paltz Meeting. It was a meeting without a meetinghouse yet, but a meeting that was full of young minds to be taught Quaker values. She taught First-day school for many years, including during the height of the Vietnam War.

After her retirement she devoted considerable time to painting, attending the Woodstock School of Art, as well as enjoying time with friends. Those who knew Sonny best recall the former Girl Scout leader who handled burning logs until she was beyond the age of 80, the grandmother who took time to find appropriate candy canes to give to grandchildren who kept kosher, the prolific painter, the host who made “legendary Manhattans” for guests, and the matriarch who stood firm in her desire to remain in the house that Heinz built.

Sonny was possessed of an irreverent sense of humor that was at times self-deprecating. She delighted in telling about falling asleep—and right out of a chair—during a committee meeting. Sonny was adamant about having known the Roosevelts, claiming that Franklin was a “terrible driver”; and also spoke about working on the sloop Clearwater for two summers, which included singing with Pete Seeger.

Sonny is survived by two children, Robin E. Schwartz and Peter-Paul Meng; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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