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Cyrus J. Merritt

1928 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Cyrus J. Merritt Obituary
Major (Retired) Cyrus J. Merritt, a veteran flyer whose career spanned props to jet aircraft, died on March 23rd, surrounded by his family at Gladeview Health Care Center in Old Saybrook, CT. He was 90. He was born May 28, 1928 in West Haven, CT, the son of Cyrus and Ida (Callahan) Merritt. He attended West Haven High School and Hopkins Academy. Merritt earned a Master's Degree and a Bachelor's Degree from UCONN, where he served as president of Gamma Iota Chapter Theta Chi. He was also chapter president in the Springfield TROA (The Retired Officers Association) and commander of the Worcester MOWW (Military Order of the World Wars). In addition, he graduated from the Armed Forces Intelligence School Air Force Command and Staff College. Upon retirement from active duty, he earned a teaching certificate from Assumption College. Over three decades, the U.S. Air Force officer flew an impressive range of aircraft: in the mid-1950s, C47s and C54s in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon; in the 1960s KC97s and KC135s refueling aircraft in the Strategic Air Command; and in the 1970s, C130s and RF4Cs in the Tactical Air Command. Upon retirement, he piloted single-engine aircraft as a flight instructor, amassing over 5000 flying hours in his career. Major Merritt earned a number of awards and decorations for his service. Chief among them were a Bronze Star, Combat Crew Medal and Meritorious Service Medal for missions accomplished in Vietnam. When any of his children later asked about details behind the commendations, he would simply say, "I was just doing my job." After a career of active duty, Major Merritt taught young men and women in Air Force Junior ROTC programs in several high schools in New England, offering his students the benefit of his passion and experience in the military. His work led to a designation as an "Outstanding Air Science Instructor" in 1978 by the Air Force Training Command. While Major Merritt was on some level married to the military, the love of his live was his college sweetheart, Barbara Cannon Merritt, with whom he was married for 67 years. She, along with the following, survived him: a son Commander (Retired) Mark Merritt and his wife Robin of Isle Palms, SC, daughters Betsy Grim and her husband Kirk of Belchertown, MA, Dr. Pam Brisson of Naples, FL, Susan Trompke and husband John of Granby, MA, Tricia Pancione and husband Michael of Whately, MA; 14 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son, Timothy Merritt.A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, March 30th at 11am in St. John Church, Main St., Old Saybrook. Please go directly to church. Meanwhile, Barbara and the rest of the family extend special thanks to the entire staff of Gladeview Health Care, who attended to Cy most professionally and tenderly. Remembrances may be made in his name to the (woundedwarriorproject.org) or to St. John School, Old Saybrook, CT (saintjohnschoolos.com/page/donation-overview.) To sign the online guest book visit www.swanfuneralhomeoldsaybrook.com.
Published in The Hartford Courant on Mar. 28, 2019
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