Dr. George Ellis Merva East Lansing Age 81, passed away on October 30. He was born August 20, 1932, in Guernsey City, OH to John and Julianna (Jugan) Merva. George was raised in Southeastern Ohio coal country, and enlisted in the Army after high school. He went to school through the G.I. bill, and continued on through a Ph.D. program in Agricultural Engineering at Ohio State University. After finishing his Ph.D., George was hired on as faculty at Michigan State University in 1967. He achieved tenure at M.S.U. in 3 years and was promoted to full professor after seven. He took pride in teaching all types of students and classes from remedial math to thermodynamics. George was also an avid musician, playing gigs starting at age 15. His primary instrument was accordion; he also played piano, guitar, and banjo. He loved 40's ballads, polka music and old standards. His rich, robust bass voice was a staple of the St. Thomas Aquinas choir for more than 40 years. George was introduced to Betty Lou Mnich when she called his household asking him to direct the new church choir at St. Michael's Byzantine Catholic Church in Pleasant City, OH. He pursued her for two years, after which they wed on October 31, 1959. He never took his eyes off her during their 54 years of marriage. George was a skilled handyman, crossword puzzle aficionado, computer nerd, and card shark. Lucky was the offspring that got to partner with him during intense and raucous family Euchre tournaments. He was a ravenous reader and enjoyed a wide range of arts and entertainment - from Russian literature to Saturday morning Bugs Bunny cartoons. George and Betty loved to travel, and commandeered marathon family cross-country camping trips, in addition to international trips to such locales as Mongolia, Tibet, Nigeria, Slovakia, and the Holy Lands. Most of all, he will be remembered for his life of service. George was a long-standing member of Kiwanis, a founder of the Knights of Columbus St. Thomas Aquinas chapter, a regular reader for WKAR Radio Reading Service for the Blind, and an archivist for Catholic Diocese of Lansing. He was also a frequent musician for nursing homes throughout the Lansing area, using his repertoire of over 1000 songs to create set lists sprinkled with entertaining trivia. He is survived by his loving wife Elizabeth (Betty Lou); four daughters, Bernadette (Eric), Monica (Frank), Jacquelin (Allen), Jennifer (Curtis) and one son, Michael (Lisa); and nine grandchildren. A man of immense faith and devotion to the church, he joyfully looked forward to passing from this life into the next. We are happy for George that his time has come to be with his heavenly Father. Funeral Services will be held 11:00 AM Saturday, November 2 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 955 Alton Rd., East Lansing, MI. The family will receive friends Friday, November 1 from 2-4 and 6-8 PM at the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, 1730 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing; and Saturday from 10 to 11 AM at the church. Donations may be made to the George and Betty Merva Scholarship Fund (givingto.msu.edu/gift/?sid=858) or St. Thomas Aquinas Music Program. On-line condolences may be made at www.greastlansing.com
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Published in Lansing State Journal from Nov. 1 to Nov. 2, 2013