Merl David GORTON Jr.
1929 - 2020
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GORTON, Merl David Jr. 1929 - 2020 Merl David Gorton Jr passed away November 4, 2020 in Spokane Valley, Washington, where he lived for the last 19 years. Merl was born in Spokane, Washington to Merl David Gorton and Lydia N. Neumann, on August 3, 1929. In 1947, Merl graduated from Central Valley High School. Prior to moving to the family farm in the Spokane Valley at age 15, he attended Rogers High School, Libby Junior High and Edison Grade School. Higher education included Gonzaga University, Washington State University, Pierce Community College and St Martins College, in Olympia, Washington. Merl served in the Washington Army National Guard for 38 years. He enlisted on December 18, 1947 at age 18. He advanced through the ranks to the grade of Master Sergeant and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on March 23, 1953. His military education included graduation from the Infantry School, Command and General Staff College of the US Army and the US Army War College. On June 22, 1975, Merl married Sue Diane Dykstra in Tacoma, Washington. They celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary this year. In April 1985, he retired as a full Colonel, while serving as Chief of Staff of the Army National Guard for the State of Washington. His tenure as Chief of Staff included time as the Operations Officer during the 1980 Mt St Helens volcanic disaster. While on leave from the Washington Army National Guard, Merl served at the Army Forces Command as the special representative of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and as his special representative to the Department of Defense in Washington DC. Military honors include: Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and Army Reserve Service Medal. Merl served on numerous church and community committees and boards during his retirement, including Indian Trail Community council, Mission Board of the first Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Board member of Martin Luther King Center in Spokane, and 12 years as President of Riverwalk Homeowners Association. He was on the Armed Services Committee of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, was Secretary/Treasurer and later Vice President of the National Guard Association of Washington, served 12 years as a representative to the National Guard Association of the US on the Resolution Committee, was Vice President of Armed Forces and Aerospace Museum Board, held several offices in addition to President of the Spokane chapter of the MOAA and also President of the Washington State Council of Chapters MOAA, and eight years as member of the Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee to the Governor of the State of Washington. Merl had a life-long love of farming, beginning on the family farm in Greenacres, Washington when his family moved from Spokane to the farm in 1945. He continued to be involved in the farm until 1972, when he was assigned to a National Guard position based in Tacoma, Washington. He and Diane later purchased a farm in the Graham, Washington area and raised Angus cattle and hay crops there until his move back to Spokane in 1998. After moving to the Spokane Valley, he continued his love of gardening until his death. In retirement Merl was a prolific writer of essays and family stories. He authored a book incorporating the World War Two experiences of a close friend, fictionalized to include some of his personal military anecdotes. The book was published in June 2020 and was one of his proudest accomplishments. Merl is survived by his wife, Diane, at the family home, and eight children: step-son Norm Gorton of Rosarita, Mexico, and Mary Wood (Bert) Spokane, WA, Karen Robinette (Tom) Spokane, WA, Gail Grill (John) Portland, OR, David Gorton (Pat) Spokane, WA, Daniel Gorton (Lora) Port Townsend, WA, Ann Pickerd (John) Hillsboro, OR and Andrew Gorton (Debbie) Coeur d'Alene, ID. Also survived by his brother Erwin Gorton at Tri Cities, WA, 16 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. Burial will be at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery at Medical Lake, WA. Due to Covid restrictions, a memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, charitable donations can be sent to The American Legion at

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Published in Spokesman-Review on Nov. 15, 2020.
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3 entries
November 17, 2020
I was saddened to read about the passing of your husband. I will be thinking of you during this difficult time.
Gwen Sanders
November 16, 2020
He was a friend of my dad’s, General Merritt Johnson. I see by his obituary that he continued to be involved with the Army National Guard for many years. He was at our home in Cheney many times, and I remember dad saying that he respected Merle a lot, and depended on him during all the years the served together in the National Guard.
My condolences to his family and also my respect to his memory.

Jenny Johnson Brownlee
Jenny Brownlee
November 15, 2020
Thank you for your service to our country. Rest In Peace.
Washington State
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