Died in LeCenter, Minnesota, on October 1, nine years after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was born 3/14/49 in Mankato, Minnesota, second of Robert Merritt Coughlan and Jeanette Hirschboeck Coughlan's ten children, and graduated from St. Thomas Academy in St. Paul in 1967. As a youth he worked summers at the Mankato Stone Company, a business founded by his great-grandfather. After being drafted into the Army during the Vietnam war, he served a life changing term as a medic at Nha Trang field hospital. Merritt came to California in the early 70s and earned a liberal arts degree from New College of California as one of the first students. Discovering the teachings of G. I. Gurdjeiff he moved to Occidental to work with the Land House Group. In 1980 he returned with his young family to Minnesota. He then earned a BA in business from Mankato State University, and became a CPA. Returning to California in 1983 he worked in construction management. Merritt did this for many years, living in New Mexico, Oregon and Arizona until returning to college a third time at age 53 to pursue his long held goal of nursing. He lived his dream for a short time, finding joy and fulfillment as a psychiatric nurse until his work was curtailed by failing health. Predeceased by his parents, three brothers, and a sister, Merritt is survived by his son Robert Merritt Coughlan, daughter Georgia Tavares, her husband Harrison Tavares, and their five daughters, all of Santa Rosa; by five sisters and their husbands: Jane and John Taylor of West Bend, Wisconsin; Elizabeth and John Flick of Atlanta, Georgia; Meg and Paul Johnson, Theresa and Charles Voda, Clare and Dan Rivers, all of Mankato; by his former wife, Patricia Coughlan Hale of Kelseyville, by eighteen nieces and nephews, and his longtime companion Judith Kessler. He was a loving father, was possessed of a truly unique sense of humor, and will be missed. Donations in his name may be made to www.fallenheroesfund.org. Observances will be private.
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Published Online in the Press Democrat from Oct. 6 to Oct. 7, 2013