Richard Laurence Merrill


POYNETTE  --  Richard Laurence Merrill, born June 13, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois to Ray Merrill and Suzanne Serre Merrill, died on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at his home of 63 years, in the presence of his daughters, in Poynette, Wisconsin.  A member of the Greatest Generation, Richard served in the 485th Bomb Group as a tail gunner in World War II.  After 50 successful missions, he returned to marry Manetta Focke, his high school sweetheart.  Richard and Manetta created a full and successful life in Poynette, Manetta’s hometown.  They raised three daughters, Gretchen of Cedar City, UT, Katherine of Minneapolis, MN, and Kristine of Merrimac, WI, in a beautiful house largely built by Richard.  Manetta died in 2004 after 57 years of marriage.

Richard enjoyed a long and successful career as an agent with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.  He had avid interests in opera, classical music, canoeing and camping.  Richard had a lifetime wanderlust which included numerous cross-country road trips from his teens to his mid-80’s, extensive international travel with his wife, daughters and granddaughter, and beach vacations in Hawaii in the years immediately preceding his death.

In addition to his daughters, Richard is survived by his very special cousin Janet;  Kristine’s husband Bill Hans;  granddaughter Claire,  Claire’s husband Rafael Steinberg; and Claire and Raf’s son Jack, all of Rye, NY.

At his request, no services will be held.

Those wishing to mark Richard’s passing may consider a donation to the Natural Heritage Land Trust in Richard’s name.  (303 S. Patterson St., Suite 6, Madison, WI  53703.  608-258-9797,  The Land Trust worked with Richard to create a conservation easement on a unique property on the Wisconsin River owned by many generations of Manetta’s family.

Heartfelt thanks to Visiting Angels Karen and Lauri and Agrace Hospice, especially Nurse Tammy, for their caring and support in the last years and months of Richard’s life.

The Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Poynette is assisting the family.


For information please call 608 742-2126 (Portage, WI) or 608 635-2763 (Poynette, WI)