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Nov. 5, 1920 - Sept. 9, 2013
Merle Warner Huntington, Jr. a resident of Brevard, NC and Longboat Key, FL, passed away peacefully on Monday (September 9, 2013) following a brief illness at the age of 92. He was born on November 5, 1920 in the oil boom town of Bradford, PA. He was the youngest of five children born to Sarah Neely and Merle W. Huntington. His birth certificate read Junior Huntington and he said that his family always called him Bill because he arrived at the beginning of the month. After attending Bradford High he studied at Jamestown Business College in Jamestown, NY. He married Barbara Griffin of Findlay Lake, NY, also a Jamestown graduate, in 1941. Their first son, Jeffrey arrived in February 1943 followed by Kevin in October 1946. He joined the Navy in 1943 and trained stateside at Sampson Naval Base on Seneca Lake near Oneonta, NY and continued serving in Buffalo, NY until his post war discharge in 1946. Barbara died in 1992.
In Buffalo, Merle worked for Brace Mueller Huntley a steel warehouse before taking a position with the newly formed Kaiser-Frazer auto manufacturer in the enormous Willow Run plant built near Ypsilanti, MI to successfully build thousands of B-24 bombers. During 1953 Kaiser-Frazer sales collapsed and Merle took a sales-engineering position with Plymouth Stamping in nearby Plymouth, MI fabricated auto components and eventually held an equity position at Warren Products of Northville, MI. Over time, he expanded his position to complete ownership of Warren Products which he sold in 1992.
He was a cub scout leader, active in boy scouts, enjoyed the outdoors including boating, hunting, skiing, fishing and camping. Merle was an Elder in the first Presbyterian Church of Plymouth where he sang in the Choir and taught Sunday School. He was often chosen to sing O Holy Night for the Christmas Eve midnight service.
He fell in love with Longboat Key, FL and subsequently, Brevard, NC and seasonally relocated to both towns. He played tennis, senior doubles, and was an active member of the Sarasota Bay Rotary Club. Merle also regularly attended the Brevard Rotary Club during summers, and was a high level Paul Harris Follow.
His continued involvement with the Presbyterian Church and activities in Connestee Falls in Brevard, NC lead to his introduction to Evelyn Bispham Spache. True to his character, Merle took up motorcycling in his 70's and courted "his Evey" on his Harley. It worked! They married in 1997. She brought to his life a large, loving Bispham family who adored him. They were married for 16 years. She also introduced him to international travel which included Asia, Antarctica and Europe. He is a charter member of the Christchurch Presbyterian of Longboat Key.
He is survived by his wife, Evelyn, his sons Jeffrey and Kevin, his grandchildren Matthew, Laura, Graham and Piper, great grandchildren Kathleen, Carrie and Sean McDonald and Samuel Huntington and stepchildren Margo Balaski and Raymond Schoonover.
In Lieu of flowers, donations will be appreciated to the Longboat Key Historical Society. 5380 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Suite 105, Longboat Key, Florida 34228-2048
Published in Herald Tribune from Sept. 15 to Sept. 16, 2013