Stanley Charles Merrill

Stanley Charles Merrill

Stanley Charles Merrill was a kind, temperate man whose passion for family— and crossword puzzles — ran strong through his 87 years of life. He died on Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Venice, Florida. 

Mr. Merrill was born Sept. 12, 1931, in Potsdam, the third of four children, to Katherine Merrill (née Blood) and Arthur Lawrence Merrill. The family lived in a farmhouse on a modest income earned by Arthur Merrill, who, after being poisoned by mustard gas during World War I, worked as a carrier for the United States Post Office. 

After the family lost the farmhouse and moved into a new home, Mr. Merrill’s bedroom was a three-season porch, devoid of a heating system, which portended his post-retirement move to Florida in 1986, his daughter, Jennifer Merrill-Fuller, said.

“That really made him dislike the cold weather in the North Country,” Ms. Merrill-Fuller said with a laugh. “Whenever he would call up here, he would ask me what the weather was so he could tell me it was 85 degrees down there.” 

After graduating from Potsdam High School in 1949, Mr. Merrill joined the Air Force and served as a radar operator on a small Japanese island during the Korean War. Following his service, he attended The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration. 

Through a mutual friend, Mr. Merrill met Judith Ruth Morris, a history major, whom he would marry in 1958; his brothers and lifelong friends of Phi Mu Delta were in his wedding party. Eleven years later, the couple were living in East Berne with two children — Jeffrey and Jennifer. 

At the time, Mr. Merrill was working as a financial analyst for the New York State Education Department, having previously been a business administrator for the Northfield School for Girls in Northfield, Massachusetts. Mrs. Merrill worked variously as a substitute teacher and writer, with bylines in the Times Union’s former Helderberg Sun and The Troy Record, as well as assistant to the director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Voorheesville. 

Mrs. Merrill also made herself active in political organizations like the League of Women Voters and the National Organization for Women, among others, which Ms. Merrill-Fuller said her father was “strongly supportive of.” 

Mr. Merrill himself was politically involved late in his life as a volunteer neighborhood captain for the Democratic party during the 2012 and 2016 elections, making calls on behalf of candidates despite increasing deafness. 

“He really tried to get people out to vote,” Ms. Merrill-Fuller said. “He was really unhappy about Trump. He did not like the guy.” 

The support Mr. Merrill gave his first wife was also enjoyed by his children. 

“I just always felt very close to him when I was growing up,” Ms. Merrill-Fuller said. “I loved sitting on his lap and having him read me stories when I was little … He was always ready to do stuff for me and my brother. He really enjoyed spending time with us.” 

Having been a Boy Scout in his youth, Mr. Merrill was the leader of his son’s troop in East Berne, for which he endured winter camping trips despite his distaste for the cold and his homebody nature, Ms. Merrill-Fuller said. 

“My father was a really kind man,” Ms. Merrill-Fuller said. “I remember with my friends — we all thought it was really funny — when he would swear he would say ‘Hell’s bells.’ That was about the angriest we would ever see him, and the worst words he would ever use.” 

After his first wife died in 1982, Mr. Merrill eventually married Frances Scanlon and took her family — and her passions — on as his own.

“He really loved his second family so much,” Ms. Merrill-Fuller said. “His step-grandchildren lived nearby and he spent a lot of time with them.” 

Mr. Merrill was proud of the artwork his wife produced, and accompanied her happily to shows at local arts centers. At home, he put together frames and cut-outs for her. 

On his own, Mr. Merrill entertained himself with crossword puzzles, old cars, and several thriller novels a week. 

In his garage, over the years, were a 1931 Ford four-door convertible, a 1941 Chevy, 1953 Studebaker truck, and a 1973 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia convertible in bright orange.

“I think it must have been his midlife crisis,” Ms. Merrill-Fuller joked of the VW convertible. 

As for crossword puzzles, Ms. Merrill-Fuller said that they were a daily task for Mr. Merrill, who worked on them with each of his wives, and they remained a source of joy as he experienced cognitive decline in the waning months of his life.

“When I saw him this past January, in Florida,” Ms. Merrill-Fuller said, “he was showing some signs of early dementia … but he could still call out answers to some crosswords. My stepmother would read the questions out to him. And that was remarkable.” 

Through it all, Ms. Merrill-Fuller said, her father’s greatest impression had been his warmth.

“You’d just think that he’s such a nice guy,” Ms. Merrill-Fuller said, “and that his family must be lucky ... My father was just such a gentle soul. I was so fortunate.”

**** 

Stanley Charles Merrill is survived by his wife, Frances Merrill; his son, Jeffrey Merrill; and his wife, Ginny; his daughter Jennifer Merrill-Fuller, and her husband, Charles Fuller; his grandchildren, Cora Fuller, Joshua Merrill, Tyler Merrill, and Tyler’s wife, Abbey; as well as his great-grandson, Django Jackson Merrill. 

He is survived also by his stepdaughter, Melissa Smith; his stepson, David Smith; his stepdaughter-in-law, Nicole Smith; his step-grandchildren, Sarah Wright, Adam Smith, and Grigsby Arnette; and his great-step-grandchildren, Roman and Jaxson Wright.

Memorial messages may be left at www.altamontenterprise.com/milestones.

— Noah Zweifel 

 

Tags:

More Obituaries

  • Nancy M. Wright

    ALTAMONT — Nancy M. (née Fischer) Wright was a loving mother and grandmother as well as a nurse and an emergency medical technician.

    She died after a long battle with extraskeletal osteosarcoma on Sunday, June 28, 2020 at St Peter’s Hospice Inn surrounded by her loving family. She was 72.

  • Earl A. MacIntosh

    ALTAMONT — Earl A. MacIntosh oversaw the multi-million-dollar redevelopment of Albany Medical Center Hospital and applied the same kind of perfectionism to growing Christmas trees to sell.

    He died on Monday, June 29, 2020, at his Altamont home surrounded by his family.

  • ALTAMONT — Earl A. MacIntosh oversaw the multi-million-dollar redevelopment of Albany Medical Center Hospital and applied the same kind of perfectionism to growing Christmas trees to sell.

    He died on Monday, June 29, 2020, at his Altamont home surrounded by his family.

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.