On the evening of Sept. 18, Merle, with his loving wife by his side, passed away after a battle with colon cancer. He was 77 years old.
Merle was born to Vernon and Inez McElwain on the McElwain family farm near Willow Township, Iowa, on Sept. 21, 1938, one day after his mother’s 26th birthday. He was the first of three children born to Vernon and Inez.
Merle grew up on the family farm and attended country school at Willow Township until he transferred to the Charter Oak schools in the eighth grade. After attending high school, Merle enrolled in the Marine Corps where he served in the 3rd Marine Air division and the 1st Marine Transportation division from 1955 to 1958.
After his honorable discharge from the military, Merle spent his early career operating heavy equipment. In 1967 he moved with his family to Colorado where he began working for the state of Colorado. He began his long term career of 40 years with Colorado State University at the physical plant with Facilities Management in 1971. As he progressed throughout his career, Merle took a position as the mechanical supervisor and project manager at the Lory Student Center where he remained for 25 years. Merle possessed an uncanny mechanical ability and during his career obtained both plumbing and electrical licensures.
It was at the Lory Student Center that Merle met the love of his life, Sherry. On June 29, 2002, Merle was united in marriage with Sherry Yeik in the backyard of their home in Fort Collins.
Although a naturally humble man, Merle considered his greatest achievement his children, Chelle, Devin and Rhonda. His happiest moments were spent with his family. Merle’s passion was to be outdoors whether it was hunting and fishing with family and friends or spending time at his beloved Red Feather Lakes cabin. He loved to watch all of the wildlife from his deck overlooking Crystal Lake.
Long known for his mechanical and carpentry skills, Merle enjoyed remodeling several houses and cabins during his retirement. He always left a special craftsman touch in each of the homes he worked on and they were always “built to last” above and beyond any codes or regulations.
Merle was a member of the Collins Chapter, no. 26, Order of the Eastern Star and the Masonic Vesper Lodge, no. 223 of Onawa Iowa.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Vernon and Inez.
Those remaining to cherish his memory include his wife, Sherry; daughter, Rochelle (Chelle) Teal and her husband, Greg of Loveland; son, Devin McElwain and his wife, Rhonda of Mitchell, Nebraska; daughter, Rhonda Jimenez and her husband, Tom of Fort Collins; brother, Charles McElwain; sister, Lila Nutting; mother-in-law, Lois Yeik; 8 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, at Bohlender Funeral Chapel. Interment with flag presentation will follow at Grandview Cemetery. Friends may send condolences to the family at bohlenderfuneralchapel.com.
Published in the Coloradoan from Sept. 20 to Sept. 21, 2016