Harold "Bud" LaVerne Merrill passed away peacefully on January 8th at his home in Lodi surrounded by his family. Bud was born May 8, 1919. He was the seventh of eight children born to Willis and Jessie Merrill of Elkhorn, California, an early California pioneer family. Growing up he worked in the family dairy while going to school. While in high school he met Isabella "Isabel" Mainland, daughter of John and Rachel Mainland of Lodi. They married May 31 of 1941. In July 1942 Bud enlisted in the US Army and trained in Wyoming and Indiana and was sent to England to prepare for the Normandy invasion. Prior to the invasion his division lost much of their equipment in heavy rains and they did not go in until two weeks after the main invasion. Bud's tour of duty took him through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and into Germany. He received three bronze stars for bravery under fire and three purple hearts for wounds received along with other awards. He was discharged in October 1945.
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In March of 1943 their first daughter, Joanne was born followed by Susan in 1946 and a son, John "Jack" in 1947. After Bud's return from the war he went to work for Isabel's father, John Mainland. The Mainland's owned a little retail nursery on Lodi Avenue which they started in 1918. He took over the nursery in 1952 after John Mainland's death and continued in the nursery business until his retirement in 1999. Bud, along with the help of his son-in-law, David Hildenbrand and his son Jack, oversaw the growth of the small enterprise into a large commercial wholesale nursery serving the west coast.
Bud enjoyed golfing, fishing, going out to an early morning breakfast with his friends and in the last 10 years attending the 83rd Thunderbolt Infantry Army Reunions where he became reacquainted with many of his old army friends. He was a member of the 83rd Infantry Association, Woodbridge Golf & Country Club, Lodi Sirs, Lodi Rotary Club, Elks Club, American Legion, San Joaquin Florist Association, Sacramento Florist Association and the California State Florist Association.
His wife, Isabel, died in 2002 after an extended illness and in 2003 he met Dorothy Stevens of Galt and they were married in 2004. He was preceded in death by his wife, Isabel, a brother, Roy Merrill and four sisters, Rita Wright, Mildred Hewitt, Verla Merrill and Shirley Warren. He is survived by sisters Harriet Mosher and Winifred Smith both of Roseville.
He is also survived by daughters Joanne Hildenbrand and her husband David and Susan Quashnick and her husband Kirby of Lodi and son, Jack Merrill and his wife Kathy of Woodfords.
His grandchildren are Lori Wreden and her husband Jeff of Pleasanton, Mark Hildenbrand and his wife Rebel of Lodi. Scott Youdall and his wife Summer of Danville, Melissa Youdall of Lodi, Jessica Evans and her husband Justin of Lodi. Also, Christopher Merrill and his wife Julie of Morada, Jeffery Merrill and his wife Jessica of Medford, and Rob Merrill of Kent, WA. He has 15 Great grand children. He has many nieces & nephews and grand nieces and grand nephews. He is also survived by his wife Dorothy Stevens Merrill and her children, Nancy Jacobus and her husband Fred of Galt, Bill Stevens of Paradise, Robert Stevens and wife Teri of Plymouth and Barbara Bell and her husband Mark of San Diego. Bud has 9 step grandchildren and 2 step great grandchildren.
Memorial Services will be held at Chapel of the Flowers at Cherokee Memorial Park at 11:00 a.m. Friday, January 17th, 2014, Highway 99 at East Harney Lane, Pastor Rob Merrill officiating.Contributions may be made in his name to the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation or Hospice of Lodi.
Published in Lodi News-Sentinel from Jan. 14 to Jan. 21, 2014