Merrill Ernest Samuelson|
Merrill left us unexpectedly on October 4, 2012 at the age of 94. He was born the oldest of seven children in Hebron, Nebraska on September 4, 1918. He was so shy that he waited one extra year to begin school, so that his younger sister could go with him. However, when he did begin school his exceptional intelligence and academic ability caused him to skip several grades. He attended Iowa State College and was interested in a journalism career. Merrill had worked with his father who operated the Goldfield (Iowa) Gazette newspaper.
He joined the U.S. army shortly before America entered World War II. Because of exceptional mathematical ability he was accelerated into officer candidate school and emerged as a second lieutenant. He met and married Arthemise Doughty of Oklahoma City in 1944, one day before being deployed to the Pacific island of Guam for 13 months. On Guam Merrill was operations officer of a unit that produced maps for bomber pilots, including the one used to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. His 949th Topographical Engineer company received a unit citation for their work and Merrill received the bronze star medal.
He was discharged in 1945 as a captain, and returned to the USA. He continued his journalism studies while working part time at newspaper jobs and becoming a father. In 1960 he was awarded a Ph.d in mass communication research at Stanford University, and in 1962 moved to Seattle to teach at the University of Washington. He served as director of the UW School of Communications from 1963 to 1968, and taught for many years producing numerous successful students.
Merrill loved chess, checkers, and card games, and at one time was the chess champion of the state of Iowa. He enjoyed his grandsons immensely and played endless chess, checkers, and card games with them as well as teaching them to fish. He was especially delighted to meet his first great grandchild Tyler Merrill Samuelson.
Merrill believed that people should pay more attention to what he called the " thou shalts, " and less to the "thou shalt nots." And he lived this philosophy. Always a champion of the underdog, he helped the less fortunate with food, money, and encouragement whenever possible. Growing up on
farms, he was a lifelong vegetable
gardener, and maintained a
double size "pea patch" community garden plot for many years, donating his harvest to local food banks.
Merrill was preceded in death by his son Michael and his beloved wife Arthemise. He is survived by son and daughter-in-law Jerry
and Carolyn Samuelson of Redmond, grandson Andrew Samuelson of Queensland, Australia,
and grandson, granddaughter-in-law, and great grandson Benjamin, Jill, and Tyler Merrill Samuelson of Edmonds.
Merrill was a great man and a true member of what has come to be called "the greatest generation." He will be loved and missed.
Services will be held at 2:00 PM on Monday October 22 at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church, 8008 35th Ave NE, Seattle.
Please send remembrances to your local food bank.
Published in The Seattle Times from Oct. 17 to Oct. 18, 2012