Col. Merrill King, obituary

Posted:  Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - 10:00pm

ROCKPORT — Col. Merrill Jenks King Jr., MD, 90, died quietly early in the morning of Aug. 5, 2015, at the Knox Center for Long-term Care in Rockland. He was born in Willoughby, Ohio, on Jan. 28, 1925, to Dorothy Bell King and Dr. Merrill J. King Sr.

He was the elder brother of Carolyn King Heath, long of Concord, Mass., who predeceased him.

Merrill attended Nobel and Greenough School. Upon graduation in 1942, he attended V-12 officer training school at St. Lawrence University, moving to ROTC training at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He chose duty on the USS South Dakota, serving in the South Pacific. After the war he served on the USS Whitewood, built in Rockland. The Whitewood's mission was operation Nanook, a survey of the Arctic and Greenland, in advance of the cold war. Merrill attended Hamilton College, majoring in chemistry and mathematics and pursued a graduate course in oceanography at the University of Oslo in Norway.

Merrill attended Harvard Medical School, interning at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover, N.H., and served an ophthalmological residency at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. When his father, also an ophthalmologist, relocated to Rockland,  he joined him, starting a joint practice associated with the Knox Hospital in Rockland, serving as chief of ophthalmology; he was also a consultant ophthalmologist at Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta. In the early 1970s, Merrill joined the ophthalmological staff of the Togus Veterans Administration Hospital in Augusta. He returned to military service in the 1970s, joining the Army National Guard, and eventually became the state surgeon. He described his time in the Army at Camp Keyes as among his best years.

Merrill was a brilliantly quirky polymath; sometimes difficult, sometimes charming. He was a man who planted hundreds of Scotch pine on his hillside in West Rockport, wore a kilt of McGregor tartan on holidays and special occasions, did meticulous hand work, including extraordinary gunsmithing, crafted silver jewelry for his family and spoke several languages, including French, German, Latin and Greek. He was known to have read the Encyclopedia Britannica front to back several times, and wrote many correction letters to the august encyclopedia, which were later incorporated. He liked single malt Scotch, Gregorian chant, and the National Review. He was moved to convert to Roman Catholicism in his later years.

Merrill was a member of the Appalachian Mountain rescue team in the White Mountains; the Rockport school committee, 1954-65; Maine Governor's Committee on Hunting Safety; New England Ophthalmological Society; Aesculapian Society; American Ordnance Association; Clan McGregor Society; National Rifle Association; Appalachian Mountain Club; A. A. A. S., U.S. Naval Institute; U.S. Marine Corps Association; and remained an officer in the Navy Reserve for a number of years.

Merrill outlived both his wives. His first, Thelma (Libby), was the mother of his children, Kristina and Stefan. She died young at age 35. Several years later he married Martha Jane (Bromley), a widow who brought three children, Denise, Merrie Lee and William, to their blended family. Jane predeceased him in 2013.

He is survived by his daughter, Kristina King of Northampton, Mass.; his grandchildren, Alexander Peabody and Emma Peabody King of Rockland; his son, Stefan M. King of Medford, Mass.; his stepdaughter, Denise Stadler and her husband, Mark, of Camden; his grandchildren, Matthew Stadler of Virginia Beach, Va., and Emily Bernier of Buxton; his stepdaughter, Merrie Lee McLaughlin; his grandchildren Lindsey and Luke McLaughlin of Brockport, N.Y.; and his stepson, William Bromley and his wife, Cheryl, of Hillsboro Beach, Fla.

The family would like to express their gratitude to the second floor Memory Unit at the Knox Center. The compassion and care given to "the Colonel" over the past years has been valued. The family will always remember their kind-heartedness.

A graveside service will be held Friday, Oct. 9 at noon at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Knox Memory Unit, 6 White Street, Rockland, ME 04841 or the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Augusta, ME.

Arrangements are with Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service.