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I am a Veteran.Curtis Merrell
February 18, 1935 - December 8, 2014

Dr Curtis H. Merrell passed away on December 8, 2014 at 79 years of age.

Dr Merrell was born on February 18, 1935, on a farm near Crawfordsville, Arkansas. He was one of eight children born to Golda Barks Merrell and William Wesley Merrell.

He was a 1953 graduate of Forrest City High School where he played football and basketball and met his future wife, Ginny. In his junior and senior years, Forrest City High School won the regional championship in basketball, and Dr Merrell was named to the All-Region team. He was also a second team all-state football player.

After high school and marriage, Dr Merrell attended Ouachita Baptist College where he graduated in 1957. While there, Dr Merrell earned eleven letters across four sports (football, basketball, baseball and tennis), missing only his sophomore basketball season due to knee surgery. Dr Merrell also won the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference Doubles Championship and was co-captain of the football team during his senior year.

Following his Ouachita years, Dr Merrell served as an officer in the United States Army for two years at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, attaining the rank of Captain before separating during a service draw-down and moving Ginny to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Curtis received his Master’s Degree from Louisiana State University.

Dr Merrell then moved Ginny to Helena, Arkansas, where he taught math and coached football and basketball for seven years. While in Helena, Dr Merrell was the head basketball coach for three years (1960-63) at Helena-West Helena Central High, winning one state championship and the distinction of being named Arkansas’ Outstanding High School Basketball Coach in 1961; assistant football coach from 1960-1963; and head football coach and athletic director from 1963-67. He often recalled his fortune to have coached such Arkansas Razorback notables as Ken Hatfield and Bill Gray, even giving Hatfield his start in coaching, albeit on a voluntary basis, for one full season while Coach Hatfield was waiting to report for active duty in the military.

Following his successes in Helena, Dr and Mrs Merrell moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Dr Merrell served as head resident at the University of Arkansas’ Pomfret Hall (the largest, co-ed dorm at the time) and earned his Doctoral Degree in Education Administration in 1969.

This degree set Dr Merrell up to take a job in Monticello, Arkansas, in 1969, as Assistant Superintendent and director of a 10-county, federally-funded education service center in 1969-71, which was the precursor to the Southeast Arkansas Education Cooperative. Dr Merrell then served as Superintendent of Monticello Public Schools from 1971-84, a time span that is second only to that of longtime Monticello Superintendent W. C. Whaley. Dr Merrell then became the Director of the Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative in Pine Bluff in 1985, serving all of Southeast Arkansas until he retired from education in 2000.

Throughout his life, Dr Merrell had enjoyed fishing and hunting, especially with his young sons and wife, and he was a true conservationist at heart. Adopting what his family called “the second greatest love of his life,” Dr Merrell formed an effort soon after retirement to reclaim and restore one of the great waterways in the state, and in October 1995 he, along with a band of other like-minded members, incorporated the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance which brought together concerned citizens, landowners and others who realize the importance of this unique southern stream that begins its journey northwest of the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and flows approximately 359 miles before crossing the Louisiana border on its way to joining the Ouachita River.

Due in large part to Dr Merrell’s vision and leadership, the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance has received numerous state and federal grants, and won the Forest Conservationist of the Year in 2000 from the Arkansas Wildlife Foundation.

For his part, Dr Merrell was honored in 2004 by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution with their American Heritage and Conservation Award, presented to those who strive to restore and protect the natural beauty of the environment, and again in 2009 when he was named a Hero of Conservation by Field & Stream magazine. Commissioners from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission also honored Dr Merrell when they formerly named a boat access ramp after him, near the head of his beloved Bayou in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Dr Merrell touched many lives, and bettered the world in many ways – he will be remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather; a man of leadership, vision and education; a Hero of Conservation; a lifelong Razorback fan; and also a man of tolerance and acceptance of others for what they brought to a team, a school, or society, regardless of their race, creed or color.

Dr Merrell is preceded in death by his high school sweetheart and loving wife of 54 years, Virginia (Ginny) Ramona Moody Merrell; his parents, William and Golda Merrell; his older brothers Cecil, Lewis (LC), Glenn, Virgil and Billy Merrell; and his older sister Alma Ruth Merrell Short.

Dr Merrell is survived by three sons, Colonel Scott Merrell (and wife, Alecia) of Lompoc, California; Craig Merrell (and wife, Andrea) of Oxford, Mississippi; and Drew Merrell (and wife, Kim) of Monticello; four grandsons, Peyton and Reid Merrell of Monticello, Andrew John (AJ) Merrell of Lompoc, California, and Luke Johnson of Oxford, Mississippi; four granddaughters, Aubrey Kate and Riley Elizabeth Merrell Hannah and Grace Johnson, all of Oxford Mississippi. Dr Merrell is also survived by his younger sister, Betty Jo Griffith, and numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, Dr Merrell’s family requests that donations be sent to the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance (Address: Bayou Bartholomew Alliance, 7233 Camden Cutoff Road, Pine Bluff, AR 71603 - or visit .

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