Keith Wayne Merrill received his ultimate healing from the Lord when he left his earthly body at 7 p.m. Friday, July 16, 2021, at IU Frankfort Hospital. He was 76.
Keith was born August 3, 1944, to the late Lawrence and Allegra Merrill, and was raised on the family farm near Thorntown. He was one of 11 children: Leon, Barbara, Pat, Betty, Donald, Ronnie, Howard, Mary, James and Joyce. Of his siblings, he is survived by his brother Ronnie and sister Joyce.
Keith attended Thorntown High School, but quit to join the Navy, when he was 17. He received his GED in the service, where he reached the rank of Seaman (E-3). He served honorably in the Vietnam War, including aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard. He was discharged from the Navy in 1966, shortly after his daughter Kathleen was born.
In the Navy, Keith learned the plumbing and pipefitting trade, which he continued throughout his life. He first worked at Pioneer Flintkote in California. Then he installed the plumbing in airplanes for the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, in the Douglas Aircraft Division, in Long Beach, California.
Keith loved all animals, and owned a pet and fish store, Merrill's Tropicals, in California, before bringing his family back to Indiana in 1981. After that move, he and the love of his life, Jackie Merrill, worked in wildlife rehabilitation, and there were always wild animals – snakes, foxes, owls, possums, coyotes and more – getting well in their home or garage. (Jackie passed away in 2013. They will be thrilled to be together again.)
Keith was the proud owner of, and main plumber for, Keith Merrill Plumbing & Pump Repair/ A1 Plumbing & Pump Repair for four decades. He loved his customers, and he often repaired things at a discount or for free when people couldn't afford to have something fixed.
In March 2018, Keith had the first two of his four strokes. Following surgery and extensive rehabilitation, he battled back to nearly his former self. After he suffered his third stroke in July 2018, Keith went to live with his daughter Kathleen; she, and later with her husband Cordell, took care of him until shortly before his passing.
Much to his dismay, Keith endured many health problems, hospital admissions and stays in rehabilitation facilities over the rest of his lifetime.
After 15 months of quarantine because of the coronavirus and getting vaccinated, Keith was enjoying forging a new life at Wesley Manor, where he had lived for one month. During that time, he made a lot of friends, and enjoyed many activities there, including bingo and a Euchre club that he started. He played four games of Euchre the day before his last stroke. It was his favorite game, one he played with great joy with his relatives and friends.
Keith loved fishing, plumbing, eating good food, laughter, and country music, especially Johnny Cash. He always had a joke to tell, and he loved hearing new ones from friends and strangers. But he never actually met a stranger; they were friends that he hadn't yet met.
He will be deeply missed by the people who were closest to him at the end of his life: his daughter Kathleen; his son-in-law Cordell; his neighbor Chuck (and wife Marilyn); his friend Lester (and wife Vicki); his friend Bob (and wife Ruthie); his brother Ronnie (and wife Cynthia); and the rest of the Merrill family.
Visitation will be Saturday, July 24, 2021, from 1-3 p.m. at Goodwin Funeral Home, 200 S. Main St., in Frankfort, IN 46041. Funeral service will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, 2021, also at Goodwin Funeral Home, followed by a graveside service at Lincoln Memory Gardens, 6851 Indianapolis Road, Whitestown, IN 46075. All are invited to attend any of the services. Keith wasn't a dressy guy, so wear what makes you feel comfortable.
Memorial donations may be made to the Clinton County Humane Society, P.O. Box 455, Frankfort, IN 46041.
Please visit goodwinfuneralhome.com, where you may share a personal message with the family.