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Merrill, Gene Orten

Posted: Mar 30, 2020
Funeral Home: Matheny-Whited Funeral Home
Gene Orten Merrill, 83, of Newark, West Virginia, passed away surrounded by his loving family on March 28, 2020.

Gene was born on September 7, 1936, to Naomi “Toots” Merrill and Ed Merrill on Monroe Ridge, Palestine, West Virginia.

Gene had two brothers, Glen and Grey Merrill. They lived with their grandparents, Burn and Gertie Monroe, on their family farm. Gene married the love of his life, Patsy Greathouse, on June 1, 1963. They were married in Charleston, West Virginia. They resided first in their farmhouse where they started their family and then in 1971, they built their house in Newark where they raised three daughters: Carol Burns, Cathie Merrill-Board, and Karen Hunt.

Gene was always known for being a hard worker. As a child, he worked on the family farm with his brothers: raising cattle, cutting hay, and growing a garden. During his lunch break, he would leave to feed the cattle and return to school. While in high school, his shop teacher, Clive Sheppard, encouraged him to attend welding school. During the summer break between his junior and senior year of high school, Gene attended Lincoln Electrical School in Cleveland, Ohio, where he received a welding certificate.

After graduating high school, he started his career at Vulcan Metals, then Babcock and Wilcox, and then Foothill Electric. On May 9, 1959 he started working at Ravens Metal in Ellenboro, West Virginia. After working there for a period, he transferred to the Ravens Metal plant in Elizabeth, West Virginia, where he remained for over 30 years, being the oldest employee. Gene enjoyed his work at Ravens Metal as it involved a wide variety of skills. He was a welder, a maintenance lead hand, a foreman, and a shop steward. He built all the gigs and fixtures for flatbeds, dump trailers, and tanks. He built the first swirling machine. He taught welding to many people including high school students. Gene always said he worked with a great group of guys. He repeatedly spoke of his admiration for Lowell Morgan and always said the founder of Ravens Metal, Lloyd Cook, was the smartest man he ever knew. In addition to his work at Ravens Metal, Gene passed on his vast wealth of knowledge to many people, over the years. After Ravens Metal moved in 1989 he worked at Erickson’s Farm, Wirt Metals, and PDR.

Gene was an avid hunter. He hunted a variety of wild game including squirrel, turkey, deer, and bear. Over his lifetime he killed 17 bears in Canada and Maine. One of his great loves was the annual bear hunting trip in Matagamon Wilderness in Maine. Matagamon Wilderness was a special place for Gene where his family and friends were always welcomed. He shared his love of this annual hunting trip with his grandson, Justen, his granddaughter Sophia, and his son in law, Steve. Gene passed on his hunting prowess to Sophia, who was his constant “hunting buddy.” He cherished the time spent with her and teaching her how to hunt the myriad types of game.

Throughout his life, Gene worked tirelessly to maintain his farms and kept the vehicles and equipment immaculate. He had a place for everything and everything in its place. Later in life, despite his physical
ailments, Gene demonstrated resilience by continuing to mow his yard and keep up with the garden. His grandson, Channing, was his constant companion while the two of them worked on projects around the house.

As a child, he was a member of the Hill Grove Baptist Church. He later changed his membership to Newark Baptist Church, where he attended until his passing. He loved his supportive church family.
Thank you to his faithful good friends Roger Strong, Don Hall, Tom Seevers, William Cottrell, Mike Scites and the late Charlie McCoy.
Gene will be remembered as a hard worker who touched many lives by his helpfulness, generosity, teachings and passion for all things he loved. If you have a memory or a story of Gene please share with the family at 4350 Newark Rd. Elizabeth, WV 26143.

Gene will be sadly missed by his devoted wife of 56 years, Patsy; his daughters Carol Burns, Cathie Merrill-Board (Eric), Karen Hunt (Steve); his grandchildren Justen (Amber) Small, Ashlee (Alex) Voyce, Channing Small, Keira (Cody) Burns, Bradley (Rachel) Crouser, Allyson Crouser, and Sophia Board; and great-grandchildren Brockten, Roxy, Lailan, Adilynn, Journey, baby Hendrix and his grand dog Lucky.

The graveside funeral service will be on Friday, April 3 at Hill Grove Cemetery No. 2. Visitation will be 1-2 p.m., officiated by Pastor William Cottrell and Rev. Dwight Brohard.

Matheny-Whited Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Hill Grove Cemetery Fund c/o Debbie Hennen 3164 Sanoma Rd Palestine, WV 26160 or Newark Baptist Church 4362 Newark Rd Elizabeth, WV 26143.