Monday, June 6, 2011

Lest We Forget from Whence We Came......

My Dad, Charles Ammon Merrell, passed away on April 29, 2011. This post is the transcript of remarks I made at his funeral on May 5, 2011. I have color-coded different parts (black is me, red are direct quotes from my Dad, and blue was my Mom). Grandpa was/is someone we can learn much from; a strong branch of your family tree. In publishing this, I hope to help you always remember....

Recently my daughter, Shelby, interviewed Dad as part of a project for a class at BYU. I have used portions of that interview in my remarks.

Dad began his life story with:

“I was born at a very early age on January 18, 1934 in the tiny town of Virden, New Mexico. “ (sounds just like him!)

“I grew up on a farm and that was not fun. It was so much work, and I don’t miss it at all. In Duncan my family had a farm where we grew onions as the main crop, tomatoes as the sub-crop. We grew a lot of alfalfa hay.

And fought weeds.

  • They were terrible in those days. We couldn’t spray them, we just had to go in and dig them out. And when you try to do that for forty or eighty acres, you just know it’s bad. So I don’t miss it.”

I remember stories Dad would tell of other things he and his friends did when they weren’t digging weeds

  • · tipping outhouses
  • · doorbell ditching with burning bags full of cow manure waiting on the doorsteps for unsuspecting neighbors.
  • · Stealing pies that were cooling on the 2nd story window sill of the Home Ec classes at school
  • · Legend has it that one day his friends picked his car up (it was apparently a very tiny car), carried it into the school and left it in the hall. Dad had to figure out how to get it out!

While in High School, he was involved in many other (legitimate) extra-curricular activities: Tennis, Band – he played the trumpet, Basketball, F.F.A.

In 1952, at the age of 18, Dad joined the Navy. He didn’t want to get drafted into the Army and he was too young for a mission. He joined up with his friend Tom Helms.

He had never been out in the world, really – just New Mexico and Idaho, and ended up at Boot Camp in San Diego.

“We did a lot of marching around. I never knew why we were marching. I just thought, “Well, this is stupid.” But I guess it was just part of the deal.”

After boot camp, Dad was assigned to an aircraft carrier that was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia.

“My buddy and I would volunteer to work on the flight deck. We didn’t have to. We were supposed to be down in the shop fixing radar and communication things. But we volunteered for the flight deck, which most didn’t want to do. It was hard work, but it was exciting. We each drove a Jet Start, a little yellow car. They were very small with a generator on it, and our purpose was to furnish the power to start the engine. Thus, the name. And that was exciting, it was fun.”

While in the Navy, this boy from a tiny little town in eastern Arizona found himself in exotic ports all over the world - Guantanamo Bay, the Dominican Republic; Spain (In Spain he and his buddies went to a bullfight and were asked to leave because they were cheering for the bull, not the bull fighter!), France, Vienna, Naples and Greece. He visited Cape Town, South Africa, Vietnam; Manila, Philippines; Japan and Hawaii; San Francisco and finally in Bremerton, WA where they put the second ship he served on (USS Midway) out of commission.

After Bremerton Dad was given two choices of where he would be transferred to.Antarctica or San Diego. It wasn’t a hard choice.

And it was a good transfer because San Diego is where he met Patricia.

Dad met Mom at church and they (obviously) hit it off very well. Mom’s friend, Lynette remembers pointing Dad out to Mom one day at church and “that was it”. Chuck became the focus of her life. Mom was a senior in High School when she met Dad and except for the boy who had already asked her to Prom, she never dated another boy after she met Dad. They were married a year later - June 4, 1957. (Almost 54 years ago!)

Dad says that when Mom accepted his proposal “It was the best thing that happened to me.”

And they are still so in love.

Mom told Dad recently:

“Charley, I think I’ve loved you all my life. As soon as I saw you I knew we were supposed to be together.”

By this time Dad had left the Navy life and was working for Household Finance. Climbing the corporate ladder meant promotions and transfers to Grand Junction, CO; Reno, NV, Salt Lake City and then back to California, finally settling back in Oceanside, CA, where they raised their four children.

Household Finance was eventually replaced with different entrepreneurial ventures.

Since the late 1970’s Mom and Dad have worked together, basically joined at the hip for 24x7.

Dad was very family oriented

He loved being a Dad – and I’m sure he loved being a Grandpa even more!

He liked to camp and to fish,

He enjoyed working in his yard.

But, his greatest hobby was his children and his family

For several years he enjoyed delivering The Clipper. I think one reason he liked it so much was that his grandson James could be with him and help out on many of those deliveries.

There are three “pillars” that I think represent Dad:

1. Humor

His humor was a blessing to himself and to others through out his entire life, but especially during his fight with Pancreatic Cancer. He always managed to bring a little light into the lives of the many nurses, doctors, technicians and aides who cared for him over the last few years. Even in his last days he would surprise us with little moments of humor that would help lighten the moment.

Mom says it best:

“He always made me laugh. His humor was automatic; he was wonderful.”

He is undoubtedly still wonderful.

2. Kindness / Service

Dad was genuine - The “Public” Chuck was the same Dad we had at home.

In our home he was a beacon of patience, service and Christ-like love.

He taught us how to serve by serving in our home, the church and the community.

In the late 70’s Dad was a partner in a couple of waterbed stores in the San Diego area. I was privileged to work with him, managing one of the stores. Dad would do whatever needed to be done to get a satisfied customer. Dad was known to set up a waterbed for a customer at any hour if needed. He was the epitome of Customer Service.

Many people have been recipients of Dad’s generous kindness and his desire to serve others over the years.

3. Testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

“But even for all the stories, I think what’s been most important in my life is the gospel. The church was always a part of my life.”

His testimony was forged early in his youth:

“I was raised in the church and I guess I always knew the church was true, deep down. But I remember once, in Primary, the teacher was correcting me for something. She took me into a room, just the two of us and she bore her testimony to me right then and there; the kind that you could really hear and understand and know. And I felt it then. That was when I first really knew I had a testimony, just a little bit, but talking to her – I just felt something.”

“And I remember my baptism. Way back when, I changed it into a bedtime story. It starts out like all good stories should, with once upon a time.

“Once upon a time there was a little boy that wanted to be baptized. He was already eight years old, then he was eight years and a month and two months and three months and he still hadn’t been baptized. So he went to his parents and said, “I want to be baptized because I’m over eight-years-old.” And they said, “We can get to it when it gets warmer” because we didn’t have a baptism font over there. But I wanted to be baptized no matter what. I quoted some scriptures to them and I said, “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.” That means, of course, do what is right no matter what. That sold them. And that evening my Bishop and Dad and some other priesthood holders came up to the house. It was dark already, but we all went up to the head gate by the irrigation ditch. And with just a lantern, right there they baptized a little boy who really wouldn’t be little anymore. And that’s my story.”

His testimony was challenged in the Navy:

“It was on that first ship, my 1st Class Petty Officer and the Meeting Chief were both Southern Baptist. They were neat guys; I had nothing against them. I actually liked going to shore with them because they never went to the places other sailors went. But they wanted nothing more than to make me a Southern Baptist. They kept bringing me these anti-Mormon books, teaching out them. And I went down to an old used bookstore once and bought a couple of those books they were quoting out of (which I wouldn’t recommend, by the way). I read them and I guess I couldn’t come to terms with them, because those books are still somewhere in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, right where they belong.”

Finally,, he shares his last testimony with each of us:

“I do have a testimony. I lean on it a lot, and I’ll never doubt it. I have plenty of faith. I know [the Gospel] is true and I know where I’m going. At least I know I’ll have the opportunity to go there, if they’ll let me. I don’t know if they will keep me or not. I have no reservations of dying. I have a testimony. I look back at my life and I see the many places I’ve gone, the things I’ve done, the people I’ve known – there’s no doubt in my mind that the church is true.”

My Dad has had an amazing life, one that can truly be celebrated, for it was well lived in Christ-like love and service to all who were blessed to know him.

Dad fought a good fight, he finished his course, and he kept the faith:

And as all good bedtime stories promise… he will live “happily ever after.”

I love you,

The Mama B

In Loving Memory...

Charles Ammon Merrell



Charles Ammon Merrell (Chuck) left this world April 29, 2011 after an astounding three year battle with Pancreatic Cancer. Throughout this experience, he exhibited great courage and a never-failing sense of humor. He has been the rock and foundation of his family for decades. Using his keen vision for the truly important matters of life as well as the knack for humor that characterized his life, he displayed a remarkable ability to calm a crisis with his sunny attitude. Living with Chuck and associating with him was a joy to all who knew him.

Chuck was born Jan. 18, 1934, the eighth child and fifth son of Ernest Leroy Merrell and Verna May Moffett, in Virden, New Mexico. They moved across the Gila River to Duncan, Arizona when he was only a few months old, and he was raised there. He joined the Navy in 1952 and served a four year term of enlistment, serving on the aircraft carrier, USS Midway, as a radioman when she took her world cruise in 1954 and in 1955 when she was part of the 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific. He met Patricia Lee Porter in San Diego, California, and they were married in the Arizona, Mesa Temple, June 4, 1957. They raised their four children, Kathleen Louise (Dave) Boyer, Judith Lynne (Hal) Fitzgerald, Steven Charles (Jeanne) Merrell, and Kent David (Elizabeth) Merrell in Oceanside, California.

Chuck was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He honorably fulfilled many callings in the church, including temple worker in the Bountiful and San Diego Temples, and as Bishop of the Cave Junction, Oregon Ward. He loved to help others. You could always count on him to be there whenever and wherever there was a need. He was released from his last calling only a few days ago when it became apparent that he could no longer serve.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia, his four children, 22 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and two brothers, Evan (June) and David, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He will be sorely missed here, but we know he gave a great report on his life and family when he arrived on the other side of the veil. Undoubtedly there was a wonderful family reunion as he re-joined his parents and other family members. We are comforted to know that we will all be re-united at a later date.

We appreciate all those who have been involved with caring for our husband and Dad. We wish to thank Dr. David Horsley, Dr. Jonathan Whisenant and Dr. Jane MacPherson for the loving care they have given Chuck during his illness. We also want to thank Debbie and the other aides of the Utah Hospice Specialists for their concern and the great service they gave.

Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, May 5, 2011 in the Bountiful 16th Ward Chapel, 720 E. 550 N. Friends may visit Wed. from 6-8 p.m. at Lindquist’s Bountiful Mortuary, 727 N. 400 E. and Thurs. from 9:45-10:45 a.m. at the church prior to services. Interment Lakeview Memorial Park, Bountiful.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Consider the Crocus

An early spring bloom,

hints of color under a blanket of white.
Resolutely defying challenges,

courageously pushing upward,
towards the sun and light of day

to reach it's full potential

and bless the lives of all.

We could learn much about life
from the Crocus.

The Mama B

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hold On

Please remember this...

Sometimes you just have to hold on…

to each other,

and to the love of those who care most deeply about you;

to the hope of promised light,

to covenants made

and assurances given.

No matter how dark it gets,

or how desperate you may feel,

know you are not alone,

and if you just Hold On

things will always(eventually)work out.

I promise.

The Mama B

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I discovered this quote the other day. It has been floating around inside my head ever since.
Isn't that a great message? Maybe you already think about others and the battles they may be fighting, but it has been a great reminder to me. No one likes to be kicked when they're down; and since we never know the battle scars others may be hiding, wouldn't it be better to offer everyone we meet a little kindness?

That's today's musings from me, The Mama B.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Free to Be...

I feel so stifled when I try to write - like I have about a million filters my feelings and ideas need to pass through before they are pasteurized enough to not offend or disappoint someone. Like anyone is really reading this blog anyway! I wonder why I don't feel "safe" in opening up? I don't know what I want to "open up" about, i just want to feel free to do it!

My hope for you my little B's is that you will find a way to be true to your divine nature without sacrificing who you really are by trying to live your life for everyone else - trying to be everything you think they want you to be. Stay true to the Lord, seek His will and guidance in your life and live the life you have been sent here to live!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Scriptures and Brass Serpents

Our lesson in Young Women's today was on Scripture Study. The following quote caused me to pause and reflect on my priorities...

"I fear that many of us rush about from day to day taking for granted the holy scriptures. We scramble to honor appointments with physicians, lawyers, and businessmen. yet we think nothing of postponing interviews with Deity - postponing scripture study. Little wonder we develop anemic souls and lose our direction in living. How much better it would be if we planned and held sacred fifteen or twenty minutes a day for reading the scriptures. Such interviews with Deity would help us recognize His voice and enable us to receive guidance in all of our affairs. We must look to God through the scriptures." Elder Carlos E. Asay

Could it be that our easy access to the scriptures is as the brass serpent was for those in ancient Israel? All we have to do is look to the scriptures through regular exposure to the messages they hold to be blessed and strengthened.

It's so simple... Let's not disregard it because of the easiness of the way.

The Mama B

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Still the One...

January 14, 1983 - 28 YEARS ago - Dave and I were sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That sealing ceremony has proven to be a sure foundation to build our family on. Sure, our life has had its ups and downs, but through it all we've managed to maintain our bearings by staying committed to the covenants we made with our Heavenly Father and with each other on that beautiful winter day 28 years ago.

I know that aligning yourself with the Lord is not always the easiest or most popular thing to do in this world we live in, but I promise it is the surest way to true peace and happiness.

I love you, Dave.

The Mama B