Florence E. Papas Merrill of East Hampton died on Feb. 19 at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead of complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. She was 78 and had been an invalid for years.
She was born on May 10, 1938, in Bellerose and received home tutoring because of bad health. She graduated with a high school diploma. As an adolescent, she was almost run over in Belmont Lake by a young man on his bicycle. It was Gustave N. Papas Sr., whom she married in 1955 and with whom she had a son, Gustave N. Papas Jr., who died after a car accident in Sag Harbor in 2004.
The couple divorced in 1960 and each person remarried, and re-divorced. Mr. Papas had another son with his second wife, Gustave N. Papas IV, who was close to his stepmother, and who survives. After each one’s second divorce, Mr. Papas came to visit Ms. Papas following a long car trip with his mother, and he stayed for the last 28 years of her life, taking care of her once she became an invalid.
Mrs. Papas Merrill was a homemaker and also loved going out for dinner and, when she was still able, dancing with Mr. Papas, who cut quite a rug, The Star learned. Her two brothers, Jim Russell and Bruce Russell, and her sister, Rose Schultz, all died before her.
Ms. Papas was cremated and her ashes will be buried at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery.