Dec. 25, 1921–Jan. 14, 2014
William “Bill” Merrifield, 92, of Watertown, S.D., and a former Arlington, S.D., resident, died Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, at Jenkins Living Center in Watertown.
William Hartley Merrifield was born on Dec. 25, 1921, in Brookings County to Richard and Ottina “Dorothy” (Henrikson) Merrifield. He spent his young years with his grandparents, Chris and Bertha Henrikson, and uncles and aunts north of Arlington in Brookings County. He moved to Detroit to live with his mother to attend and graduate from Royal Oak High School.
Bill joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1942 and served on a LST as a gunner’s mate through the end of World War II. He was commended by his commanding officer, W.D. Strauch Jr., for performing his duty while under mortar shelling on the Normandy coast: “You stayed behind along with a small group of officers and men as a nucleus crew after the ship was evacuated. Your courage and devotion to duty were in every respect in keeping with the highest traditions of The United States Coast Guard.”
Bill married Gwendolyn Johnson on Dec. 28, 1946. He started working for Northwestern Bell Telephone in 1947 and retired in 1984 as an installer.
Bill served on the Arlington Volunteer Fire Department from 1951 to 1981 and was a lifetime member of the American Legion and Communication Workers of America. While serving as secretary he wrote a history of the Arlington Fire Department.
As a young man, Bill enjoyed playing baseball and hockey. As a young married man, he built his family’s first home in Arlington. Later in life he was an avid golfer and spent many hours at Lake Region Golf Course. A lifetime fisherman and hunter, Bill enjoyed being outdoors in an ice shack, a duck blind and walking the cornfields. Always a supporter of everything his children and grandkids did, he attended many band concerts and baseball, hockey and basketball games throughout the years.
Bill always helped anyone in need whether it was a ride or something that needed fixing. He shoveled snow for neighbors and friends and was always available to lend a hand at whatever needed to be done.
Bill is survived by wife Gwen of Watertown, S.D.; three daughters, Linda Cowing of Phoenix, Ariz., Pat (Rick) Parmer of Lovell and Shelly (Doug) Alvine of Watertown; and a son, Michael, of Grand Forks, N.D.; eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Joyce Merrifield, an infant son Dana and his Henrikson aunts and uncles, who were like his sisters and brothers.
Funeral services for Mr. Merrifield were held Jan. 18, 2014, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Arlington with Pastor Solveig Hendrickson officiating. Burial was in the Arlington City Cemetery. Johnson-Henry Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.