Jerry Merritt was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He loved to play on the floor with the grandkids, share a laugh or offer advice to whoever needed it.
There was always unconditional love, his family members said.
Jerry W. Merritt Sr., 65, of Portage, died Jan. 21. He was a retired Local 460 union painter. He served as a Seabee in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He earned a Bronze Star and numerous other commendations, said his wife of 46 years, Faye Merritt.
“He viewed his years in military service with fondness and shared stories about what it was like and the friends he made and lost,” she said. “He was a true patriot. He always stopped a veteran, thanked them for their service and asked about their experiences.”
His children said their father was devoted to their mother.
“He always left little love notes for her before going to work and would call her throughout the day just to chat and check on her,” said their son, Jerry Merritt Jr.
Merritt was a hard worker and rarely missed work. He passed his work ethic onto his children. Daughter Misty Oehmke said her father would joke about his work ethic.
“Dad read the obituaries every morning and joked, ‘Well, my name’s not in there, so I guess I’ll go to work today,’” Oehmke said.
He loved to read, and passed that love of reading on to his children and grandchildren.
“Dad always said you could be anyone, go anywhere with a good book,” said his daughter, Catherine Marsh. “Even his grandchildren relished Papa taking them to the bookstore. He had an appetite to learn, and he loved to teach historical tidbits during between trips and movies.”
He had the ability to make people feel special, Marsh said.
“He always took time to stop and chat. He could find common ground with anyone,” she said.