Harper, Merle F.
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Merle F. Harper, 89, passed away peacefully on April 23, 2013. Merle was born June 14, 1923 to Loren Wilmer Harper and Jessie Minnie Harper in Allen, Nebraska. At age 5 the family moved to Buckeye, Arizona. His early years were spent in a machine shop where he became a proficient welder and innovator. He was given a baseball scholarship to the University of Arizona where he attended until 1943. Merle joined the Army Reserves in 1943 and was called to serve his country that year. During WWII he was stationed in Bury St. Edmonds, England, Rougham Field, flying B-17 bombers with the 94th bomb group until the end of the war. After the war he returned to the University of Arizona, graduating in the first Pharmacy School class. Merle married the love of his life, Margaret Ann Becker, on February 2, 1947. The Harpers raised their family of three sons, Dan of Roseburg, Oregon, Ken of Kenai, Alaska, and Fred of Springerville, AZ. After graduation Merle worked for Ryan Evans Drug stores in Globe and Wickenburg, AZ before purchasing Western Drug Store in Springerville in 1959. He later also ran a store in Holbrook, AZ in the 1970's. As a community leader, Merle worked tirelessly in his commitment of service to others. He was an active member of the Community Presbyterian Church. The Harpers donated land for the new building while both Merle and Margie worked countless hours to make the building come to life. They were everywhere at once. Merle never missed the opportunity to say to his fellow members, "God loves you and so do I!" The new Springerville Hospital was made possible through his work and effort to secure funding. He was also instrumental in moving agencies to pave the Big Lake road. His community service included the school board and Rotary. He belonged to the American Legion Post 30 of Springerville, honoring other veterans that believed in and fought for this country. Merle was a 32nd degree Mason. This multi-talented man continued his love of flying and as a builder eventually completed the construction of two experimental aircraft. He believed in the power of the handshake and what it meant! It was the guarantee of your character to follow through. He did what he said he would do, always! On numerous occasions he would comment that it was inconceivable that the public could elect such dummies to congress or as president. Merle was a beloved father and husband and was preceded in death by his brother Wilmer Harper of Phoenix and then his wife of 65 years, Margaret Ann, in April of 2012. He is survived by three sons and their families: Dan (Suzanne) and their children and families Jennifer (John) Olson, and great-grandchildren Kellen and Elias; Michael (Theresa) Harper and great-grandchildren Lawrence and Ellsworth, Oregon; son Ken (Joy) and grandchildren Kathleen Harper, Bo Anderson, and William Harper; and son Fred (Debbie). A visitation will be held Sunday, April 28, 2013 from 6:00-8:00 at Burnham Mortuary in Eagar. A Celebration of Life will be held July 6, 2013 at the Community Presbyterian Church in Springerville. Burnham Mortuary, Eagar, handled the arrangements. To send an online condolence, log on to www.burnhammortuary.com.
535 N Main St Eagar, AZ 85925
Published in The Arizona Republic on Apr. 26, 2013