By Cheryl Conway
An 89-year old North Caldwell man is planning benefit concerts to raise money for area food pantries.
Donald Meserlian, 50 year resident of North Caldwell, held the Caldwell Food Pantry Benefit Concert, on Sun. Nov. 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Caldwell United Methodist Church in Caldwell. Twenty percent of the proceeds went to the Caldwell Food Pantry for Thanksgiving baskets.
For $15, attendees got to listen to seven professional musicians present original songs and music and standard hits from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. From each ticket purchased, $3 was allocated to the food pantry.
“This is going to be a model concert for fundraisers for other food pantries,” says Meserlian, a forensics engineer, inventor and musician. Meserlian was hoping to fill up at least 200 seats in the 220-seat sanctuary. “If this concert is a success this will be used for other towns.”
When asked why he is supporting food banks, Meserlian says “At my age I have to give something back to society. People are hungry, they are out of work.” There are “only two classes today, poor or rich; middle class are disappearing.”
Playing violin for 85 years, since he was five, Meserlian decided to put his talents to good use.
“I have the ability to hear something, play it back and improvise,” says Meserlian, a professional violinist who used to perform at weddings and ten years with his quartet, Allegria String Quartet.
“I started out with a teacher at the age of five,” explains Meserlian. “I would look at the music; I could hear what she played and I can play it back to her. I can play it by ear; it was a gift.”
Every Sunday, Meserlian performs at the Fine Grind Coffee Shop in Little Falls Open Mike held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Music is not the only means Meserlian has used in the past to raise money to support area food banks.
From 2014 to 2016, he sold one of his inventions, a special bookmarker, outside of several supermarkets.
“I invented a bookmarker called Page Saver,” with birds on one side and flowers on the other with markings to identify left or right, so readers know what page they are on. His third wife, Jean, helped him create the bookmarkers.
His bookmark sales raised about $2,000 to support food banks in Cedar Grove, Clifton, Montclair and Nutley.
Some of his other inventions have included a gage placed in zerox machines; solar panel to heat entire house; a method to measure how slippery shoes and floors are. When he is not inventing or performing, Meserlian is busy publishing The Sovereign newspaper.