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Merril David McElwain was born in Denison on April 12, 1927, to Ora and Gladys (Farley) McElwain and raised in Woodbine, where he graduated from high school in 1945. Shortly after, Merril enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, serving two separate stints between 1945 and 1952 on bases throughout the country, beginning with the Martin bomber plant at Offutt in Omaha. A lifelong aircraft enthusiast, he briefly attended aeronautical engineering school in southern California, where, in November 1947, he witnessed the only flight of Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose," the largest aircraft ever built. Merril later worked as a bomber mechanic at a U.S. Air Force base in Japan, where the B29s he serviced were flown to the conflict in Korea. When he left the Air Force, Merril had attained sergeant mechanic rank as a noncommissioned officer.
While still in the service, stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, he married Loie Ehlert at the United Methodist Church in Woodbine on November 19, 1950. Merril and Loie played together in the trumpet section of the Woodbine high school band. After Merril was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1952, the McElwains moved to Omaha before relocating in 1957 in Woodbine, where they raised six children. Merril worked as an Omaha steelworker and welder for many years before retiring from Paxton & Vierling in 1990.
Merril was a metal sculptor who listened to classical music as he worked in his beloved shop, and his many works grace commercial establishments, homes, the cemetery, and front and backyards throughout the area. His ornamental ironworks include spiral staircases, gates, handrails, and flower hangers as well as metal art objects.
Merril spent much of his retirement in his self-built workshop. Prior to entering the Rose Vista nursing home in October 2012, he enjoyed his later years sitting in the swing on the west side of the house and taking car rides.
Merril died Thursday, May 22, 2014 at Rose Vista in Woodbine at the age of 87 years, one month, and ten days.
Merril was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Loie; brothers, Russell and Gordon; and sister Hazel Nelson. He is survived by his children, David (Karen) McElwain of Wayne, Nebraska, Dan (Jan) McElwain of Harlan, Iowa, Barb (Steve) Sturgeon of Overland Park, Kansas, Dennis McElwain of Sioux City, Iowa, Douglas McElwain of Woodbine, Iowa, and Dana (Carol) McElwain of Greeley, Colorado; 12 grandchildren; 10 great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews, other relatives and friends.
May 26, 2014
2:00 PM to 8:00 PM
May 26, 2014
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
May 27, 2014
May 27, 2014
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