How a man treats others can define his life. Merwin Van Zee's life was defined by compassion, humor, strength and love.
Merwin was born on July 5, 1945. He was raised in Iowa surrounded by his parents, Martin and Gertrude, and his siblings, Dorothy, Don and Marlene. His strength of character and strong work ethic were built by growing up on farms surrounded not with physical wealth, but with everything important that money couldn't buy.
After high school, Merwin attended the University of Iowa where he earned a degree in Pharmacology. He completed the ROTC program while in college. Merwin was promoted to Captain and served at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. After the Army, Merwin worked in pharmacy management in Harlan, Kentucky; Williamson, West Virginia; Port Arthur and Kingwood, Texas.
In 1983, Merwin found his final home in Denison, Texas where he worked at Texoma Medical Center for 28 years. After serving as the Director of Pharmacy for 12 years, he became the night shift pharmacist at the hospital. Many life-long friendships were formed during his tenure at TMC.
While at the University of Iowa, Merwin met his future wife of almost 45 years, Nancy. Together, they created a life filled with laughter, respect, shared adventures and most of all, love. Merwin and Nancy were each other's best friends throughout their journey together.
When Merwin married Nancy, he received more than her hand, but an extended family who loved him as one of their own. Mother-in-law, Barbara, brother-in-law, Dick, sisters-in-law, Jennifer, Kathleen, Sheila and Katharine helped make his family complete.
They raised two daughters, Kristy and Sarah, who were very lucky enough to call Merwin, Dad. While sitting with a fishing pole in hand, Merwin taught his girls the importance of life – to do what is right, stand up for what you believe and treat others with a kindness and fairness.
Sarah's husband, Matt, was Merwin's son-in-law and friend. "The Farm at Lake Wannabe", Merwin's escape from the city, was where Matt helped build a cabin, cut down trees and forged a special bond.
Merwin's five grandchildren, Jack, Katy, Zachary, Ellie and Alex, filled his life with such love and laughter. He would beam with pride watching them. Many times, Merwin would join in whatever activity the children were doing. He was fiercely protective of his grandchildren, doing everything and anything he could to ensure they were happy, safe and successful.
Merwin's life was tragically cut short on Saturday, May 11. He leaves a legacy of family and friends who will always remember his thoughtful deeds, his steadfastness and his laughter. Nancy was his heart, his daughters his soul and his grandchildren his pride. And through their memories, Merwin will always remain their best friend, their strength, their advisor and their love.
Merwin was the calm in the storm and the laughter in the darkness. He will forever be missed.
As always, the family will follow Merwin's direction. He will be cremated and later buried in Iowa. Family visitation will be at Bratcher Funeral Home on Thursday, May 16, from 6 – 8 p.m. A service to celebrate Merwin's life will be at First Christian Church in Denison on Friday, May 17, at 2 p.m.
Memorials may be made in Merwin's memory to his favorite charities: Grayson County Shelter, Helping Hands, Red Cross or Salvation Army.