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Anthony "Tony" Merlis, MD

July 24, 1943 — July 4, 2023


Anthony "Tony" Merlis, MD


Anthony Logan Merlis, MD

Madison, WI-

Anthony “Tony” Merlis, MD, 79, of Madison, WI, passed away on July 4, 2023 while in hospice care in Middleton, WI, after a protracted illness.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, on July 24, 1943, he grew up primarily in Baltimore, MD. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and received his MD from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and served two years in the US Navy as a Medical Corpsman. He met his wife, Ellen (née Kowaczyk), while an intern in Chicago, and eventually they settled in Hanover, NH, where Tony began his medical career. It was in Hanover where their two daughters, Jennifer and Abigail, were born. The family then moved to Madison, where they lived for nearly 20 years.

Tony was an avid musician and lover of jazz music, particularly Phil Woods and Steely Dan. He was a talented saxophonist, continuing to play privately and with small groups throughout his life. Cooking and exploring the world through food were a large part of Tony’s life–restaurants were first on the list when exploring new destinations. An accomplished woodworker, he made beautiful furniture, a clavichord and even a harpsichord—which only took him 40 years to complete! His love for craft was passed on to his daughter Abigail. He also enjoyed fly fishing, a pastime he introduced to his daughter Jennifer.

Over the years, Tony and Ellen moved several times between NH and WI. They also spent time at their home in Dorset, VT, and several months each winter in Bradenton Beach, FL where they created a new family of friends and enjoyed socializing, fly fishing, walking along the beach, attending local theater and concerts, and spring training games for his hometown team, the Baltimore Orioles. In 2018, after several prior “attempts” to retire, he finally did, and he and Ellen relocated back to Madison, to be closer to family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Grace (née Logan) and Jerome Merlis, and youngest brother, Mark Merlis. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ellen, daughters Abigail Merlis and her partner Ben Kalow, and Jennifer Merlis, MD, his brother Daniel Merlis and his wife Deany Laliotis, nephews Steven (Maura) Merlis and Jonathan (Emma) Merlis, Lorrie Ober, brother-in-law Bob Ashe, and nephew David (Theresa) Griffith.

Though he reconnected with his Jewish heritage later in life, he was not an active member of a congregation. Per his wishes, no funeral service to be held. Interment to be private, and memorial service to be scheduled at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to one of the organizations below in memory of Tony:

  • The Krenov Foundation’s Scholarship: This Foundation was established to support the art and craft of fine woodworking, Tony’s longtime passion. To donate online, go to, and enter “Scholarships in Memory of Anthony Merlis” in the Additional Information text box. Or contact them via email,
  • The ALS association whose mission is finding a cure for ALS, which took the life of his brother Mark. To donate, go to Please follow the link to donate.

Cress Funeral Service

3610 Speedway Road

Madison, WI 53705


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Anthony "Tony" Merlis, MD, please visit our flower store.


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