Merrill Holland Utley Jr., 87, of Thibodaux, died Sunday, July 7, 2013.
He was born to the late Merrill Sr. and Martha Withers Utley, Aug. 26, 1925, in Jackson, Miss.
Visitation will be from 9 a.m. until funeral time Thursday at St. John's Episcopal Church in Thibodaux. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at the church. Visitation will also be from 9 a.m. until funeral time Saturday Wright-Ferguson Funeral Home in Clinton, Miss. Burial will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Lakewood Memorial Park Cemetery in Clinton, Miss.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley Utley, of Thibodaux. He was preceded in death by his wife, Martha Sowell Utley. He is survived by his children, Martha Holland Utley, of New York, Merrill Utley III and Robert Utley, both of Thibodaux. He is also survived by five grandchildren, one great-grandson and three sisters.
He was a U.S. Navy veteran who received a BS in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University, in addition to attending Tulane University in New Orleans. Merrill relocated to Leeville, after graduation where he worked for 15 years. As Chevron's transportation superintendent, he became instrumental in the development of Louisiana's oil patch as chronicled in the book "Cajun Mariners" by Woody Falgoux. Merrill is credited as one of the key personalities involved in the design of the oilfield workboat or "Botruc" used all over the world today. In 1964, Merrill and wife, Martha "Sowell," moved to Thibodaux where he owned and was the C.E.O of Delta Well Logging Services. He retired in the early '90s. In his later years he would be known for his work in bringing the Acadian Cultural Center to Thibodaux which housed the Martha S. Utley Library, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and the Thibodaux Playhouse Inc.
Merrill was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church, Rotary Club, and the Freemasons. He was a traveler and an avid pilot. He was the 1982 recipient of the Francis M. Durel Award given by the Thibodaux VFW for outstanding service to the community.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in his name to St. John's Episcopal Church or to the Thibodaux Friends of the Library.
Landry's Funeral Home in Thibodaux is in charge of arrangements.
Published in Houma Today from Jul. 9 to Jul. 10, 2013.