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James Merriken, executive, Hopkins benefactor


James Merriken, a retired lumber businessman who also was a Johns Hopkins University lacrosse player and longtime benefactor of the university, died Monday of congestive heart failure at Charlestown Retirement Community in Arbutus. He was 84.

Mr. Merriken, a lifelong Baltimore resident, played lacrosse at Hopkins. He was a defenseman and was captain of the 1933 squad, which won the national championship.

"He loved anybody who played lacrosse, especially lacrosse for Hopkins," said one of his daughters, Jean Schafer of Mill Valley, Calif. "That was his passion."

Mr. Merriken played on the U.S. lacrosse team that won the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1932, when lacrosse was a demonstration sport.

Walter Kneip, Mr. Merriken's brother-in-law and one of his teammates at Hopkins and on the Olympic team, called him "a very good player" and recalled playing in front of 95,000 spectators in the Los Angeles Coliseum, many of whom were in attendance to see the marathon race, not a lacrosse game.

Mr. Merriken married the former Jean Kneip in June 1936. She is deceased.

Mr. Merriken worked for more than 40 years in the lumber business, retiring as vice president of the Kimball-Tyler Co. in Baltimore around 1985.

He also was a partner in a Christmas tree farm business near Gettysburg, Pa., for about 30 years.

He remained active in Hopkins affairs throughout his life, volunteering at the Homewood House Museum after retiring. Over the years, he contributed money to the museum, the Associates Club, university athletic facility expansion, the Lacrosse Hall of Fame and other university programs.

"For more than six decades, Mr. Merriken was a devoted member of the Johns Hopkins family," said Ken Keatley, a university spokesman. "He will be greatly missed, but his contributions as a Hopkins student, athlete, alumnus, volunteer and friend are cherished by all here whose lives he touched."

Mr. Merriken, a graduate of Friends School, received a degree in economics from Johns Hopkins in 1933. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, Varsity Club and H-Club.

He was a member of the Johns Hopkins Senior Alumni Program, the Homewood Business Roundtable, the Johns Hopkins Club, Kiwanis Club and Mount Washington Club.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of the Angels chapel in the Charlestown Retirement Community, 715 Maiden Choice Lane.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Merriken is survived by another daughter, Anne M. Goldsmith of Mill Valley; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial donations to the Johns Hopkins University, Development Office, Garland Hall, Baltimore 21218.

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