Donald Merkin
1935 - 2020
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Donald 'Don' Merkin
August 25, 1935 - August 24, 2020
La Jolla
Donald "Don" Merkin, 84, passed away on August 24, 2020, after a valiant 6-year battle with esophageal cancer. He was a brilliant litigator, lifelong learner, and adventurer. Don Merkin was born on August 25, 1935, in Cuyahoga, Ohio. He was the only child of Edward Julius "Eddie" Merkin and Dorothe Holzberg. Both sets of grandparents were Jewish immigrants who'd immigrated to Ohio to escape the pogroms in Russia, Lithuania, and Poland. Don had particularly fond memories of his maternal grandparents, who often cared for him after his parents divorced and remarried. He was also fond of each of his step-parents: George Swerdlow and Dorothy Grotstein Merkin. Don's youth was spent in Ohio between Cleveland, Akron, and Columbus. He graduated from Bexley High School in 1952. A lifelong Buckeye fan, Don earned a B.A. in International Studies from Ohio State in 1956, where he was also a member of Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity. Like many of his peers, his career was delayed while he completed his civic duty within the U.S. military. Don served in the U.S. Army Active Reserve as Staff Sgt. and then in the U.S. Air Force Active Reserve (Rank: E-5).Don's career evolved as his interests did. He managed his stepfather's auto parts business, The Big Wheel, all over Southern California while finding ways to use experience and interests in entrepreneurial ways. He wrote a book on interviewing skills and coached people moving into new jobs and industries.His inquisitive, nimble mind was drawn to the study of law. Undaunted that he was responsible for two children at home, he worked during the day and went to night school, graduating from USD's Law School in 1975, the same year his daughter was born. He was a civil litigator for 44 years specializing in business and real estate law. He co-founded the law firm of Merkin & Hemme with Jerry Hemme. It is not surprising that Don, a tireless worker, was still practicing law until he retired at age 83. Don's mind never relaxed, even after his workday. His appetite for learning and adventure was endless. First of all, he was an avid reader and took great pride in his home library, which was filled with history, philosophy, and art texts, as well as fiction. He had a natural talent for learning languages; he was trilingual in English, Spanish and French, but could make his way through Italian, German, and even Russian. At the age of 84, he'd just finished his thesis in French literature as a 2020 CSUDH M.A. candidate.He passionately supported the arts: music, theatre, opera, and visual art. He appreciated lovely things and enjoyed collecting. Don was particularly happy when vacationing in the rich culture of Paris, London, and Italian ancient cities. (That being said, he was equally content to be home with his eclectic collection of dogs over the years!).As active as his mind was, so too was his taste for exercise and adventure. Don enjoyed swimming, baseball, ping pong, biking, and running. He ran in several marathons, including the Mud Run at Camp Pendleton. Furthermore, he became adept at more daring sports, like polo, parachuting, and even fencing. Additionally, he had his pilot's license and, at 78, took up drumming on the African Jimbay.Lastly, Don's energy extended to his family life. He was widowed in 2004 when his wife of 22 years, Linda Greer Lenain Merkin, passed away. Before this, he had married and divorced three times: Rochelle Kay Glasser, Martha "Fritz" Hoffman, and Mary B. Morton Merkin Tatum (the latter's two sons he adopted and called his own).Don is survived by his children (and their spouses): Meredith Merkin Rodriguez (Jason), Robert Merkin (Kathleen), Brian Merkin, and Eve Andrea Burns. His grandchildren include Madeleine "Dylan" and Elliott Rodriguez; Molly, Caroline, and John Merkin; Hannah Merkin; Jennie and Jason Bliss; and a stepson, Adam Lenain. He is also mourned by his partner, Sharon Murphy Kambestad. Please sign the guest book online at lajollalight

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Published in La Jolla Light on Jan. 14, 2021.
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