recently suffered some health problems and died on January 11. He was 93. Joe was born in Italy in 1919 and immigrated to USA with his family at the age of 2 years. He was raised in Pennsylvania and Santa Barbara. He became a U.S. citizen and attended U.C. Berkeley, on a football scholarship, where he met and married Janis Kennedy. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II
. He began his career of educating youth by coaching and teaching at Richmond High School (CA), where he coached the football team to their first undefeated season. During this time, he and Janis had two daughters. Eventually, he and his family moved to Fullerton.
He coached and taught at Fullerton High School. He became Dean of Boys at La Habra High School, and served as Vice Principal at Lowell High School. When Sonora High School was being built, he was selected to be its Principal. He helped with some of the final indoor set-up [assembling student desks] so the school could open on time. He served as Principal from 1966 to 1978. He later served on the FJUHSD school board for 11 years, and also on the school expulsion panel. In addition he served on the Orange County Grand Jury.
He retired and loved fishing and watching many kinds of sports (especially Cal Bears sports). Since 2007 he lived in Bakersfield near his older daughter, Bernadetta Rickard. He is survived by his two daughters, Bernadetta and Christina Merlo and was predeceased by his wife, Janis, after 52 years of marriage. On February 4, he and Janis were buried at Bakersfield National Cemetery with military salute.
Should you wish to make a donation in Joe Merlo's memory, his family suggests memorial gifts could be directed to the Cal Lettermen association, "The Big C Society", P.O. Box 5075, Berkeley, CA 94705-5075. Donations are tax deductible. The Big C Society works to help undergraduate student-athletes have the best college experience possible - both in the classroom and on the athletic field - and to prepare themselves for the challenges of the outside world after graduation.