G. Martin Merrill 89 of Marfa died this past Monday, February 6, 2017 in Odessa, Texas.
Martin was born on December 22, 1927 at Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo, New York... there is even a bill on hand from the hospital placing his cost of birth to his parents George and Flora Merrill at a mere $49.60.
He had one younger brother Gaither who was also born and mostly raised in Buffalo. One of Martin's earliest recollections was a trip made with his grandparents Jessie and Emily Merrill (who were visiting from Fort Davis) to Montreal and seeing a total eclipse of the sun which must have been August 1932. Though he grew up in the suburbs of buffalo, Martin got his first taste of ranch-life at the age of 8 when he spent a summer at this uncle Richard Merrill's ranch in Limpia Canyon and learned to rope and got to ride with the cowboys every day. That was also his first summer attending Bloys Camp Meeting with his grandfather and grandmother. At the end of the summer, Jessie and Emily drove him to Pecos and put him on a train which he rode to St. Louis, them changed trains to Buffalo - all by himself!
Through school, he was active in scouting, earning Life rank ultimately but was not a strong enough swimmer to earn the swimming Merit Badge and hence never earned Eagle. Hockey was also a challenge for him as he never perfected the ability to skate backwards. ultimately, his favorite sport would be skiing and during winter his friends and he would build their own runs and jumps which could be quite fast once they turned icy.
In 1945 the family moved back to Fort Davis so Martin's father George could help with the ranch and Martin enrolled at the University of
Texas at Austin initially in the engineering department to follow in his father's footsteps, but ultimately earned his bachelors degree in applied mathematics with minors in physics and geology. At UT he also was roommates for two years with Clay Miller of Valentine, forming a tight friendship and bond that lasted a lifetime.
After college he decided to try gainful employment in California, so took the train to Los Angeles and ended up hired by the Western Geophysical Company and sent right back to Texas to work in the field doing seismology work in Snyder. He later returned to California and lived and worked briefly in Fresno before enlisting in the Army during the Korean conflict. His first post was in San Francisco at Presidio and would spend time in town at the Top of the Mark when he could. From there he received orders to go to Korea and fortunately due to bad eyesight was not placed into an infantry unit, but instead assigned to the 96th Field Artillery Battalion, where good fortune smiled upon him and the only malady he sustained was ringing in the ears from the 155mm Howitzers.
Following his service in Korea, Martin returned to the ranch and helped his father as well as another local rancher and close amigo Skinny Friend. While working at the ranch, he attended Sul Ross State University and earned a Master's Degree in Animal Husbandry - an interesting addition to math, physics, and geology but at the time much more practical to his work. Martin and his younger brother Gaither were also avid skiers and often would drive all night to Taos or resorts in Colorado just to hit he slopes by early morning.
In 1961 as President of the Fort Davis Historical Society and a good friend of Barry Scobee, he joined the local historian and author in his trip to Washington DC to present the case for the creating of a National Historic Site at Fort Davis. he highlight of the trip was seeing President Kennedy address a joint session of Congress. Their efforts were successful and Martin has since been invited as keynote speaker on a number of anniversaries at the historic site.
It was also during this time that he met Lee Arthur of Marfa and after four years of pursuit, he finally convinced her to marry and they were wed at the Methodist Church in Marfa on January 26, 1962. Their reception was held in the ballroom at the Paisano Hotel...little could they have dreamed that in 2012 they would celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in the same wonderful venue.
After marrying, Lee and Martin moved to El Paso where he took a job at the El Paso National Bank first as a teller but moved up eventually to the position of Assistant Vice President working as a commercial loan officer. Later, Martin would go to work for one of his good customers and friends J.O. Stewart at the El Paso Disposal company where he was comptroller until his retirement a the age of 64.
Martin and Lee raised their one son, Raymond in El Paso while still remaining deeply rooted in Marfa and Fort Davis where their elderly parents resided. Besides weekend trips to enjoy Carolina's (the Old Borunda Café) in Marfa of spend time on the ranch with his mother, Martin enjoyed Sunday morning rounds of golf with his uncle in law Charles Hancock at the Anthony Country Club in New Mexico or shooting a round at the Marfa Municipal Course with local friends.
After his retirement, Martin enjoyed traveling with Lee and continued membership and volunteer work at the El Paso Historical Society, and served a number of years on the Marfa Cemetery Association. Their social calendar was so busy whenever in Marfa, that in 2010 Lee and Martin finally decided it was time and sold their El Paso home and moved permanently to Marfa where they have lived full-time since.
Martin is survived by his wife Lee Arthur Merrill of Marfa, Raymond and his wife Silvia Merrill and grandson Adrian who currently reside in Reston, Virginia.
he is preceded in death by parents George and Flora Merrill and brother Gaither Merrill who died February 26, 2006.
Services will be held Saturday, February 11, at 2 p.m. at the Marfa Cemetery with a reception to follow at the Pisano Hotel.
Arrangements by Alpine Memorial Funeral Home. Memorial donations may be made to the Marfa Public Library at 115 Oak St., Marfa, Texas 79843 or the charity of your choosing.