Merle Lee Walker, son of George Washington and Mary Leona (Whitney) Walker, was born October 11, 1928, on the family farm about 5 miles northeast of Waldron, Kansas. He passed away on May 21, 2019, at his home in Wichita, at the age of 90 years.
On December 30, 1951, Merle was united in marriage with Mary Ellen Simpson. To this union three children were born: David Lee, Katherine Marie and Susan Dea. Merle had one sister, Vitha Coats, and they were best friends always.
Merle graduated from Spring Township High School and attended Wichita University for one semester. He also took several adult education courses later in life.
Merle became a Christian at the age of nine and this greatly influenced the direction that his life took. In his younger years he attended the Baptist Church and held various offices, both locally and at the state level. Later he began attending the Anthony Christian Church and, with Mary Ellen, helped start the Over-the-Hill Gang.
Merle was president of the local 4-H club and of the Harper County 4-H Council. He served on the Township Board several terms, and in 1972 was an unsuccessful candidate for State Representative. He was also instrumental on the committee that brought Horizon Mental Health Center into Harper County, serving on Horizon's board of directors for 14 years, the last as chairman. He was on the Senior Advisory Committee of Kansas Blue Cross/Blue Shield for four years.
In his fifties Merle became an Emergency Medical Technician. Most of his activities as an EMT were in transferring patients between hospitals and in teaching CPR. He became a CPR instructor-trainer and trained 15 instructors as well as providing the CPR instruction for about 70 student EMT's. Altogether he had around 600 go through his CPR classes.
The farm where Merle lived was purchased by his great-grandfather in 1884 and remains in the family. Merle spent the first 63 years of his life in the house where he was born, then moved to Anthony where he lived for 20 years.
Merle greatly enjoyed raising Hereford cattle and wheat. He started in the harvest field driving a tractor pulling a combine when he was 12. He worked wheat harvest for 51 consecutive years without missing an hour because of accident or ill health.
At the age of 53, Merle purchased a bicycle. Riding this became a major hobby and he rode more than 50,000 miles over the next 25 years.
Merle and Mary Ellen celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary several months before her death in 2002, following many years of ill health. About a year later he began keeping company with Patricia June (Armstrong) Hoel. A few months later, on February 14, 2004, they were married.
In 2012, Merle and Pat moved to Sedgwick Plaza, a retirement community in Wichita.
Merle was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Mary Ellen; son, David; daughter, Katherine; and his beloved sister, Vitha Coats.
Merle will be deeply missed by his wife, Pat; daughter, Susan Bryant and husband, Greg; daughter-in-law, Margo Walker; son-in-law, David Scraper; stepchildren: Beth Phillippi, Judy Deuth and David Wilcox; six grandchildren: John W. Walker, Joe W. Walker, Amanda Kennedy-Angel, Aaron Fisher, Brad Fisher and Kyle Fisher; 9 great-grandchildren: Isabella Kennedy-Angel, Harper Kennedy-Angel, Luke Walker, Collin Walker, Casey Walker, Katy Fisher, Drew Fisher, Allyson Fisher and Kira Fisher; and a host of other relatives and many friends.
Funeral service was held 2:00 p.m. Friday, May 24, 2019 at Prairie Rose Funeral Home in Anthony with Pastor Jim Rackham officiating. Grandson, John W. Walker, gave a eulogy. Madison Konkel sang "Amazing Grace." Ruth Salberry played "His Eye is on the Sparrow."
Burial followed at Forest Park Cemetery in Anthony. Casket bearers were Merle's grandchildren: Aaron Fisher, Brad Fisher, Kyle Fisher, John E. Walker, Joe Walker and Amanda Kennedy-Angel.
Memorials in memory of Merle may be made to Country Living Inc., and may be sent in care of the funeral home.
Prairie Rose Funeral Homes, 602 E. Main St., Anthony, KS 67003, is in charge of arrangements. www.prairierosefuneralhomes.com