Robert William Merritt, 88, of Carroll, died peacefully at home Monday, Sept. 20, 2010. Born to William and Martha (Machler) Merritt in Le Mars on June 4, 1922, Bob was schooled in the Le Mars community and attended Westmar College there. He moved to California during the great Iowa migration of World War II, and worked in a factory that made instrument panels for bombers. While there he pursued his passion for architecture by taking several correspondence courses in drafting and building design.
Bob returned to Iowa after the war and worked at the Lake City Woodworks in Lake City with friends he had met in California. It was there that he met Marylou Johnson, and they married in November 1946. The newlyweds decided to return to California, where Bob worked on the construction crew of a major movie studio. They returned to Iowa in 1948, and moved to Carroll in 1950.
Bob formed Merritt Construction Company and partnered with Earl Neu of Neu Development Corporation to begin building Carroll's "suburbs" -- especially on the west side of town.
Over the years Bob and his crews were involved in numerous projects. He planned and built the first "urban renewal" project in Carroll, as well as the Motel 71-30 and Tony's Restaurant. He was involved in the construction oversight of many of the Crouse Cartage Company installations across the Midwest. Through the years Bob designed and built both office buildings and homes for many of Carroll's professional people.
After a brief period traveling throughout the Midwest to install science labs and gymnasium structures in schools and hospitals, Bob was offered a job as building inspector for the City of Carroll. During his time with the city, he was passionate about providing every consumer with quality, spending the taxpayers' money with the same caution that he spent his own, and following the rules! Two of his favorite "careers" took place when he was well into his 70s -- working on the 2000 Census in Carroll County, and supervising a team of workers who refurbished the old train depot in Carroll.
Bob loved music, in all its forms. As a young adult, he was drummer for one of northwest Iowa's most popular dance bands, Bob Figg and His Rhythm Kings. He sang with the choir of the Carroll Presbyterian Church, and with the Community Chorus, and he sang until the end, with gusto. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church for 60 years, holding various leadership roles in the church, and designing and constructing the church's major addition in the mid-1960s.
He was a member of the board of Easter Seals' Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines for many years, and until his death he looked forward to the arrival of the newsletter from The Lincoln Highway Association. Bob was an avid student -- and teacher -- of the history of Carroll and Carroll County, and the State of Iowa.
Bob is survived by his children Marsha (Rob) Vollkommer of Galena, Ill.; Jon (Elaine) Merritt of Manson; and son-in-law Tim Bohling (Kris) of Carroll. He leaves behind grandchildren and great-grandchildren whom he loved unabashedly: Jillian Merritt (Manson), Jake Merritt (Storm Lake), and Greg Merritt (Manson); Maria Bohling (Carroll), Abby Bohling (Indianola), and Gretchen Bohling (Chicago); Mia Vollkommer and Peter Wilson (New Orleans), Mara, Patrick and Ewan Kelley (Bellingham, Wash.) and Max, Meghan, Addison and Charlie Vollkommer (Alamogordo, N.M.).
He was preceded in death by his parents; an infant sister; a brother Harold; sisters Phyllis Merritt and Lois (Hall); his wife Marylou; daughter Nancy Bohling; and son Bruce Merritt.
Bob Merritt was an artist, a musician, a preservationist, a gardener, a good friend, a deflector of praise, a capable leader and a dedicated follower. He was deeply religious, deeply committed to the betterment of his community, and deeply in love and delight with his family. Bob's life touched many people, in many places...and he will be missed.
Private graveside services will be held.
Memorial contriutions may be made to The Iowa Lincoln Highway Association, PO Box 14, Ogden, IA 50212.
Funeral arrangements are by Dahn and Woodhouse Funeral Home in Carroll.