John William (Jack) Merkel, age 90, died Sunday April 19, 2020 at Silver Maples Retirement Community, in Chelsea, MI with family present. He was born in Chelsea, MI on December 23, 1929, one of four siblings and son of Mary Estelle Young and Ferdinand W. Merkel. Following graduation from Chelsea High School (class of 1947), he studied Business at Ferris State University and then Philosophy and Theology at Assumption College (now University of Windsor).
He met the love of his life, MaryAnn Gabel, on a blind date in Ann Arbor, and they were married on September 13, 1952. Shortly thereafter, he was called to military service in the Korean War, where he saw combat in the 7th Division as a 2nd Lieutenant infantry platoon leader. Returning from service in 1954, Jack joined his father and uncle in business at Merkel Brothers Hardware Store, and he and MaryAnn built a home in Chelsea where they raised five sons and were active community members for the next 67 years.
In 1956, Jack’s brother and future business partner, Bob Merkel, joined the business. For 56 years, they grew and evolved the business into the present-day Merkel Furniture and Carpet One which is now owned and operated by Jack’s son and grandson, along with Bob’s son.
Jack understood the importance of service in the community. He served as Village President and as a member of the Chelsea Planning Commission. His service on boards of directors included the Chelsea Library, Chelsea United Way Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, Chelsea Community Hospital, Chelsea State Bank, and Silver Maples. He and MaryAnn were lifelong members of St. Mary Church, where Jack read at Sunday mass for 53 years.
Jack was honored with the “Citizen of the Year” award for his leadership of a Chelsea Village Council committee to upgrade and strengthen Chelsea’s government from village to home rule city, a difficult, complicated, and litigious process that lasted over ten years. Following this he led the committee that wrote Chelsea’s home rule city charter.
Jack enjoyed reading, travel, theatre, music and loved playing bridge. He could often be found on the tennis courts, golf course, or ski slopes all of which he enjoyed until late in his life. He especially enjoyed the many trips to the family deer camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with his brother, sons, grandchildren and friends.
He is survived by his sons, John, Tim (Anne), Dan (Candace), Matt (Elise), and Richard (Christine); his grandchildren, Brian, George, Charlie, Daniel, Molly, Lauren, Lucy, Helen, and Tomas, and great-grandchildren, Gunnar and Baz. He is also survived by brothers, Robert (Barbara), and Patrick (Sandra), sister in-law, Jane, and many nieces and nephews. Jack was predeceased by his wife, MaryAnn, his sister, Gertrude (Dot), and daughter in-law, Sayra.
Visitation and Memorial Service will take place at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Faith In Action and Saint Louis Center. Arrangements by Staffan-Mitchell Funeral Home, Chelsea.