Bruce Aaron Merrick, born February 11, 1925, passed peacefully from this world to the next on December 18, 2014.
Funeral services will be held at 1:00 P.M., Monday, December 29, 2014 in the Holechek Funeral Home in Sidney, Nebraska. Burial will follow in the Greenwood Cemetery with military rites.
Visitation will be from 10:00 A.M. until service time on Monday at the funeral home.
Memorials may be made in his name to Concerned Women for America or the Cheyenne County Historical Association.
He was born in Maxwell, Nebraska, where he lost his father, William Arthur Merrick, when only five years old. He recalls his older brother Eldred Bryant Merrick saving his life as they walked along the placid North Platte River, pulling him out by the hair when he fell into a deep hole under the water. His mother, Rosa Belle Gregg Merrick, raised him, along with Eldred and sister Elinor Jean Merrick, in Maxwell, North Platte, and Lincoln, settling in Sidney and opening the first Merricks’ Shoes store in 1939. Stores and shoe departments owned and operated by the Merricks spread throughout the rest of the century from the first in Sidney to Scottsbluff, Nebraska; Fort Morgan, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; and Nampa, Caldwell, and Boise, Idaho.
In 1943, Bruce was drafted on his 18th birthday and allowed to finish and graduate from high school before being whisked off to boot camp in the Army Air Force. His life-long penchant for photography was stoked by his work in the Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, moving through the Mariana Islands from Guam to Saipan and developing the films that the bomber squadrons brought back from their raids over Japan. His peace-time photo albums cover nearly sixty years, and his family life was chronicled in detail long before the internet age made it easy. He always had his cameras out.
He traveled Europe (getting in trouble with his camera behind the Iron Curtain – no one was allowed to see life there as it really was) and drove to South America in the 1950s. Returning home, he devoted his life to business, flying, and choosing the very best toys for his three nephews, Eldred’s boys, Taylor Bryant Merrick, William Arthur Merrick, and Gregg DeWalt Merrick.
In 1960, he married the love of his life, Delores Elaine Johnson Merrick. Over the next twenty years, their family grew to include Robin Jené Merrick Schmidt, Heather John Merrick Esparza, Aaron Seymour Gregg Merrick, Amy Leigh Merrick Hillstrom, William Henry Merrick II, and Elinor Jean Merrick, named for his favorite sister. Family, business, politics and religion fill fifty-two one-and-a-half-inch mostly hand-written volumes of “The Diary.” But he also wrote poetry, songs, short stories, histories, innumerable letters to the editor, and a three-volume biography of his devoted wife, which serve as a treasure trove of information about life in the latter half of the twentieth century.
One of his books is a volume of sketches. He drew everything and all the time. And he painted. His paintings, though not large in number, are of wonderful historical variety and significance. Chimney Rock. Scott’s Bluff, Scottsbluff National Monument. The Brig Enterprise Leaving Marseilles. The Old Loggy. Still Life. Portrait of His Mother. Craggy Tree. Cloud over the Johnson Farm. You get the picture. We certainly did.
In 1970, he moved the family to the Treasure Valley of Idaho in order to put his children in Christian school. In addition to a Christian education, his children learned first hand the basic principle of running a small business: hard work. He worked diligently six long days a week to ensure they were taken care of and tuition was paid at Nampa Christian Schools. Sunday was a time for Sunday School and Church first, but after that, fun in the form of family drives, hikes, games, and birthday celebrations.
Nearing retirement, with the children mostly gone, Bruce and Delores built a modest home with scenic views of Lake Lowell, and enjoy the beauty of nature through the seasons, storms, and even a forest fire. She went to Heaven in 2002, and when the kind ministrations of his neighbors were no longer sufficient for his care, he moved for a short two-and-a-half years to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to be near his oldest daughter.
His other great interest was genealogy, and he researched lineage back as far as the eighth century Scottish royal family, encountering many wonderful stories over a thousand-year period. In the interest of future genealogists (a phrase he often employed) the following section is included.
He is survived and missed by his sister, Elinor Merrick Runge of Littleton, Colorado, all of his children, grand-children Emily Laine Schmidt Walker, Jacob Aaron Schmidt, Brandon John Esparza, Alex Barron Esparza, Jenáe Sheree Esparza, Audrey Josephine Merrick Steinbach, Robert Aaron Merrick, Anna Jolie Hillstrom, Leisel Rose Young, Madeline Mae Merrick, William Henry Merrick III, Lucy Morgan Merrick, Lyric Vincent Merrick Kemper, and three great-grandchildren Max Ryan Walker, Claire Emily Walker, and Emma Noelle Steinbach.
Holechek Funeral Home and Cremations in Sidney is serving the Merrick family.