Raymond Vernon “Skip” Merkle, former president of Raymond G. Merkle Memorials and an active Shriner, died Nov. 17 at Gilchrist Center in Columbia from complications of dementia. The Granite resident was 85.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Rockdale, he was the son of Raymond Gerald Merkle, founder of the cemetery memorials company that bears his name, and his wife, May J. Cronhardt, a homemaker.
He was a member of the inaugural graduating class in 1952 at Milford Mill High School, and received a bachelor’s degree in 1956 from then-Western Maryland College in Westminster, now McDaniel College.
Mr. Merkle joined the Windsor Mill family business founded by his father in 1933, and eventually became its president. He retired in 2001 from the business, which is now operated by fourth-generation family members.
He had also served with the Maryland National Guard as a member of the 110th Field Artillery Battalion, part of the 29th Infantry Division, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.
A Shriner, Mr. Merkle was a member of Palestine Lodge 189 in Catonsville.
He was also a member of the Boumi Temple Shrine Center and its color guard. He served as a Boumi potentate in 1987 and was on the board of Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia for nearly a decade.
“He only had two hobbies: his business and the Shrine,” said his wife of 56 years, the former Nadine Brooks, a retired teacher at Baltimore’s William S. Baer School.
He was also a member, elder and trustee of Granite Presbyterian Church.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Boumi Temple Shrine Center, 5505 King Ave., White Marsh.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Merkle is survived by a son, Robert Merkle of Lansdowne; a daughter, Joy Parson of Granite; a sister, Marilyn J. Irwin of Eldersburg; and three grandchildren.
—Frederick N. Rasmussen