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John F. Merritt

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John F. Merritt Obituary
April 11, 1942 - February 22, 2016 Independent spirit, animal lover, kind friend, and dedicated family man John F. Merritt has died after a long illness. A native Angeleno, John was best known professionally as the founder of Californians for Preservation Action and its successor organization, California Preservation Foundation (CPF). A feisty preservationist who helped popularize the notion that whole neighborhoods' history should be kept alive and celebrated, his dedication, creative thinking, and chutzpah made a permanent mark on California, saving the now-hip "Old Pasadena" from the wrecking ball and popularizing the neighborhood he christened "Bungalow Heaven," a name it retains some 45 years later. In the late 70s, he moved North, working for the State of California, then serving as Assistant Director of the National Trust's Western Regional Office before directing CPF until 1995. He capped his career-and finally used that USC Slavic Studies degree-at the Czech Republic's Ministry of Culture, helping craft a national program for historic preservation as director of its Monuments Program. In retirement, he enjoyed reading, spending time with his grandchildren, and volunteering each year for the Catalina Island Conservancy, which took him back to the Southern California beaches he loved so much. Indelibly himself to the end, John was able to die at home in the company of his dear daughters Erin and Aimee and devoted wife Betty, who was his joy through 50 years of marriage and trusted companion throughout his illness. He also leaves behind beloved son-in-law Ray, cherished twin "grandcritters" Imogen and Paul, and loyal friends too numerous to count. His kindness and sense of humor live on in us. No services are planned. In lieu of flowers, please share some quality time and a ripping great story with your family, like John loved to do. Bonus points if you do it with a dragonfly on your shoulder or a cat on your lap.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Feb. 26 to Feb. 27, 2016
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