Berle Eli Mercer

Berle Eli Mercer of Healy died Dec. 9, 2008, in Fairbanks. He resided at Denali Center after suffering a stroke last February, a week after losing his beloved wife, Claire. He died peacefully and is with her once again for eternity.

Berle was born on June 29, 1927, to Lorenzo and Alta Mercer in the sandhills of Nebraska. He arrived with his twin brother, Merle. Along with 10 other siblings, they were raised on a ranch where they first got involved in raising buffalo, which was the beginning of his lifelong passion of raising them.

He always had a fascination with Alaska, and when he was drafted into the Army, he was stationed in Anchorage. This delighted him immensely as this is where he always wanted to venture.

After military service, he returned to Nebraska. In 1948, he and his twin brother, Merle, attended an international twin convention in Omaha, Neb. It was there, they met the loves of their lives, Claire and Clarice Miller of Mount Vernon, N.Y. The sets of twins corresponded by mail for a year. They invited the young women to visit the Mercer Ranch near Thedford. Their love deepened, and they were married in a double ceremony on Oct. 1, 1950, in Mount Vernon.

Berle's adventurous spirit drew him and Claire back to Alaska where they resided in Nenana. Their oldest son, Baxter, was born in Fairbanks in 1952. The young family returned to Nebraska in 1953, where sons Kirk and Dwight were later born. Berle and Claire and sons returned to Alaska, settling in the Healy area where in 1957, they bought a homestead ranch that became home. The subsequent births of daughter Wilma and sons Rex and Howard completed the family.

Berle lobbied for the building of the Tri-Valley School, where Claire was the head secretary from 1970 until 1995. He and Claire were actively involved in all school functions and took every opportunity to host a variety of school field trips, barbecues and famous hayrides and loved participating in parades with their horses.

Berle and Claire operated a gas station on the Parks Highway for several years during the '60s and '70s. At the same time, they also ran the Mercer Ranch, raising a variety of livestock, which included Scotch highlanders, buffalo, mules, horses, sheep and more. They also operated a pack guide service into the park for climbers, hunters and tourists.

His other interests included the Lions Club, the Aurora Club and the Elderhostel, all to which he and Claire were deeply committed. They rarely said "no" when asked to perform any type of function in the area. In 1981, he and son Baxter ventured into raising buffalo, which were admired by many on the Parks Highway until 1989. Berle and Claire spent their remaining years dedicated to the Tri-Valley area and enjoying ranch life.

Berle was preceded in death by wife of 57 years, Claire. He is survived by his children: Baxter and his wife, Renee, Dwight, Kirk and his partner, Regina Wycoff, Rex and Howard, all of Healy; and Wilma and her husband, Deric Marcorelle, of Soldotna; grandchildren, Heather Mercer, Delila Mercer, Kyle Mercer, Kaila Boone, James Ryan Ford, Aubrey and Brick Marcorelle and Erik and Monica Mercer; great-grandsons, Brendan Ahseln and Blake Williquette; and many siblings and families in Nebraska and throughout the states.

A celebration of Berle's life will be held at 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 20, at the Tri-Valley Community Center.

Arrangements were by Fairbanks Funeral Home and Crematory.

Published by Daily News-Miner on Dec. 11, 2008.
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10 Entries
I always liked Uncle Berle and looked forward to his and Aunt Claire's visits when we got the chance to see them. My condolences to the rest of the family and their many friends.
Nathan Olson
December 18, 2008
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Randy, Patty McAfee
December 15, 2008
My name is Sharon Fitzgerald (nee Jarmin) and my best friend growing up in Thedford Nebraska was Sylvia Mercer. I have many fond memories of Sylvia telling me of her adventures with her cousins in Alaska. I knew all of Merle and Clarice's children, as we both had big families in a small town; and most of my siblings were classmates of the Mercer children. It sounds like Berle Mercer followed his dreams and had a large and loving family. What more could an anyone ask for. My condolences to the entire family for the loss of their loved one.
Sharon (Sherry) Fitzgerald (nee Jarmin)
December 15, 2008
Uncle Berle & Aunt Claire were always a joy to see when getting together at the our grandparents in Thedford, NE for any kind of celebration. They will both be missed very much even for those of us who are far away. And I know both my parents Francis & Rose Mercer would want you all to know how sorry they are and how much they wish they could be there.
Love Always
A Cousin
Lorraine (Mercer) Rasmussen
December 14, 2008
We are so sorry for your loss. Uncle Berle & Aunt Claire (the "Alaska Twins") left grand footprints for their
children,grandchildren,and community to fill. We hear that you all are doing a wonderful job with this legacy. Love, Sylvia and Family
sylvia Baade
December 12, 2008
I still remember the first time I met Berle and Claire. I was in 5th grade, Ms. St. Peters class in the district office. They came and talked to our class about what Healy was like before.
God Bless the Mercer family.
Sara Pennington
December 12, 2008
Our thoughts and prayers are with you all as you go through this difficult time in your life. God Bless,
Mary Bain & The Sieck Family
Brenda Sieck
December 12, 2008
I will never forget your parents or any of you kids. We can always remember their advice,even if we cannot be face to face for a time.Memories do last forever as long as they are passed on.
Butch and Teresa Hall
December 11, 2008
My first wife, Mary E Pike and I knew Berle from Young Republicans in the 70's and admired his spirit and dedication to politics and justice. Later, I met Dwight at Denali Princess where I admired his skills and dedication.
Bill Pike
December 11, 2008
We wish to send our condolences to the Mercer family. Berle will greatly be missed as is Claire.
Scott & Dianna Stowell
December 11, 2008
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