Deane W. Merrill

deane merrill
Dr. Deane W. Merrill, Jr., 75, of Asheville, died on February 16, 2014 after several months with cancer. Prior to moving to North Carolina in 2006, he lived in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, and before that, he lived in Berkeley, CA for 25 years. Born May 9, 1938, Deane grew up in South Orange, NJ. He was graduated from Deerfield Academy in MA in 1956 and was a National Merit Scholar. In 1960 he was graduated summa cum laude from Williams College in MA. During his graduate studies at University of CA at Berkeley, he received a Ph.D. in 1967 in high energy nuclear physics in the research group of Luis W. Alvarez. Later, after three years in Paris working for the French Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Merrill returned to UC Berkeley where he received a second doctorate--in Public Health and Epidemiology--in 1998 while working at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. He retired and he and his wife bought his ancestral family home in Shelburne Falls, MA, which had been built by his great-great-grandfather in 1852, and created "Bear Haven" Bed and Breakfast. In 2006 he moved to Asheville and taught physics at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. Deane sang in the San Francisco Bay Area men's Slavic chorus "Slavyanka" for 30 years. The chorus made three trips to the former Soviet Union and performed there. His principal interest was genealogy, and he created numerous Web pages for his family history. He was the son of Deane W. Merrill and Harriet R. Merrill, formerly of South Orange, New Jersey. His grandparents were Charles A. Merrill and Eleanore G. Merrill of East Orange, NJ and Reginald P. Ray and Emma T. Ray of White Plains, NY and South Salem, NY. Dr. Merrill is survived by his wife, Anna Christine Morben Merrill of Asheville, and his daughter Eleanore Merrill of Chile, and two granddaughters Chilenne and Noa, and one great-granddaughter Yuala. He is also survived by two brothers, Charles Merrill of Denver and Jonathan Merrill of Asheville, and two stepchildren, Jeannie Woods of Asheville, and David Woods of New York City. Funeral arrangements to be determined. Groce Funeral Home on Tunnel Road is assisting the Merrill family.

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  1. I am so sorry to learn of Deane’s passing. He was always lovely to talk with and kind to offer help. Please accept my sincere condolences.

    • Hello Virginia, I imagine you are a relative on my father’s mother’s side – Harriet Ray? I believe… Unfortunately I cannot locate the genealogy information he worked at so painstakingly with so much dedication. Many years have passed, seven actually! Which is a long time. I hope you are well and don’t know if you will see this. I would very much like to get in touch, if you do. My email address is below. Kind regards, Deane’s daughter, Eleanore

  2. I am so sorry to hear of Deane’s death. Remembering his many hours doing genealogy at the Shelburne Town Hall

    • Dear Beverly, Not sure if you will see this. I am Eleanore, Deane’s daughter. I am unable to get in touch with my father’s widow, and cannot find any of his genealogy databases anywhere. I also cannot find his obituary. This saddens me. He loved working with you and having access to the Shelburne Falls archives for his research! His grandchildren and great granddaughter are very interested in learning more about the family history. That would have pleased him a lot. I miss him still, so very much. Thank you for writing a few words here. Kind regards, Eleanore

  3. Deane was a very good egg that I had many good times wrestling with over the many things that make shelburne falls. Some of our most humorous hours were spent discussing my oldest daughters non attempt to study in one of his math classes. I was sad to learn that deane and family was heading south and am sadder still now that I know that he is no longer with us.

    • What a lovely message, it means a lot to read your impression of Deane, and the sense of humor is lovely. I hope your daughter learned enough math to get by. Deane was certainly a patient teacher. I miss his explanations of everything factual and his love of numbers. So nice to read your caring message, thank you.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about Dr. Merrill’s passing. I took a math class from him many years ago. He was calling roll and got to my name. ‘Are you of the Shelburne Falls Goodell’s?’ he asked. When I answered yes, he told me to see him after class. He knew more about my family history than most of my family. He was an awesome guy and I’m very sad to hear of his passing.

    • What a wonderful story! Thank you for writing. Too many years have already passed and I miss him ! But your story really brought a big smile. Kind regards, Eleanore

      • Ma chère Eleanore ~ How amazing and serendipity to come across this site! – just when I’ve been spending the day reminiscing about your papa Deane on his birthday today, May 9th, and the many wonderful adventures we all had together in Paris, France when you were just about to arrive in this world! I’ll try to contact you tomorrow! love, your godmother, Sandi
        ~ Also, Thank you so much Jonathan for all of your fascinating Merrill genealogy. Your brother Deane was a dear friend, and I’ll never forget his singing, “On Eagles Wings” as a tribute at my father’s memorial service in 1994.

        • Chère Sandra, merci buckets darling. I too have been “with” my papa in thoughts and am so touched – you are the only one to remember him with me, now. Ah the BOOMING joyfulness of his voice will never leave us !! Thanks goodness, that booming laughter is still and forever there to remember and bring a smile.

  5. Dear anyone who remembers Deane. He would have been 85 in a few days. He would have been a wonderful great grandpa to Yuala, who would so much like to have met him. His granddaughters Chilen and Noa miss his presence too. I miss my papa, Deane so. I wish I knew where his ashes are, whether they have been let to rest, whether we can go visit a place where his remains are now, hopefully at the graveyard where he was so proud to have found ancestors? Has he been laid to rest? Were his ashes lost in the great fire that took all objects connected to his memory in Asheville. I would appreciate any contact address with anyone who knows more about his resting place. I am not on facebook or such, but my email address has remained the same. Thank you.

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