William "Bill" Merritt
1940 - 2020
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William "Bill" Merritt

Pensacola - William "Bill" Merritt, was born in Lake City, FL, in 1940, son of the late William Henry Merritt and Leonora Merritt Lukkar. He attended Pensacola Catholic High School graduating in 1958 and had many fond memories. He was President of his senior class and also served as a captain of the basketball team as well as the football team playing quarterback. Following graduation, as a man devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ, Bill was called to the seminary to fulfill his vocation as a priest. During his years in the religious life, he was devoted to many underserved communities through initiating medical clinic and food pantry programs to meet the needs of communities surrounding St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Pensacola, FL. Growing up in Pensacola, Bill was also an avid fisherman and held a love for the sea his entire life.

Bill was later called to married life when he met, Mary Lou Cliggett, who had a similar passion for the Gospel and for serving others. They were later united in marriage for over 30 years. A devoted husband and father, their union was blessed with two children. During his married life, Bill continued his mission to Christian service and social justice as a Coordinator of Social Ministries at St. Benedict Church in Holmdel, NJ before becoming a licensed clinical social worker where he worked with those with severe mental illness and traumatic brain injury. Bill's mission to the Gospel remained an integral part of his entire life.

After experiencing cardiac arrest almost 12 years ago, Bill was never able to fully recover and has spent the last 9 years requiring full-time skilled nursing care. Throughout Bill's health struggles, Mary Lou remained devoted to Bill until her sudden passing in February 2017. Most recently, Bill contracted COVID-19, and passed away peacefully on April 22.

His life will forever be cherished in the lives of his children: Nora Anne Pellegrino and Eileen Rose Merritt, and son-in-law John Pellegrino. Bill was also the proud grandfather of John William and Gabriella Rose Pellegrino, as well as a new granddaughter Charlotte Grace born May 5, 2020. He is also survived by his three siblings and their loving spouses; brother Wayne T. Merritt and wife Barbara of Mobile, AL; sister Joan Fox and husband Frank of Pensacola, FL; and sister Diane Haddock and husband Andy of Houston, TX. He will also be missed by his sisters-in-law and their loving spouses Anne Hoeing (Thomas), Margaret Mary Cliggett Reynolds (Farrell), Rosemary Caulfield (Joseph); as well as by his brothers-in-law Charles Cliggett (Nancy) and Francis Cliggett (Michele). He is deeply loved by his countless nieces and nephews.

Although we cannot presently gather together, a mass of Christian burial will be held at a later date.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Maire and Bill's daughter's special needs trust account. Checks can be made out to "EILEEN MERRITT THIRD PARTY SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST OF 2020" and mailed to: Nora Pellegrino, 23 Magnolia Drive Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

Bill is remembered by his family and friends as a patient, and kind man and a true gentleman with a compassionate soul and contagious smile.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in the Pensacola News Journal from May 17 to May 24, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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