A celebration of the life of Paul F. Merriott will be held 1 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, at First Presbyterian Church of Claremore. Visitation will be held at MMS-Payne Funeral Home & Cremation Service on Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m. Family will greet friends 5 to 7 p.m.
Paul died peacefully on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.
Born in Lenapah, Oklahoma on Nov. 14, 1923 to parents Charles Sylvester Merriott and Mary Elizabeth Brown. They were true pioneers traveling from Missouri in covered wagons to Oklahoma where his father would own and operate the first stagecoach line for mail delivery and troop transportation. When Paul was a young boy the family relocated to Chelsea, Oklahoma where he milked cows daily on their dairy farm.
Paul attended Chelsea Public Schools where he met his future wife Alice Lee Watson. He was an outstanding athlete and also worked at R.W. Benjamin Funeral Home which led to his lifetime career. After graduation in 1942 Paul joined the United States Coast Guard to serve in World War II after his marriage to Alice.
He and Alice moved to St. Louis after the war where he attended St. Louis School of Mortuary Science. After completion of school he returned to R.W. Benjamin Funeral Home as a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. In 1958 he purchased the Chelsea Funeral Home which he owned and operated until 1977.
Paul was a member of the First Christian Church of Chelsea, a lifetime member of The American Legion, fifty year member of the Chelsea Masonic Lodge, past President and active in the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, organized and worked in the Chelsea Public School Booster Club and a lifetime member of the Chelsea Roundup Club.
In 1970 he purchased Musgrove Funeral Service with his daughter and son-in-law. He and Alice moved to Claremore where he became immersed in the community and the First Presbyterian Church.
Paul was proud of his fifty year career and was instrumental in mentoring young men entering the business. One of Paul’s favorite sayings was “Find something you like to do, learn to do it well, and put down roots in your community.”
Friends and family were important in his life. On any Friday night you might see Paul, Monk Hall, Max Milner, Don Hill, Richard Lundy and the late Gale Welch loading up to go out to eat, watch a high school sporting event and share stories.
Paul is preceded in death by his wife, Alice Lee and ten siblings.
Survivors include Cindy and Jim Smith, Claremore, Oklahoma, Paula and Scott Williams, Flagstaff, Arizona and Stephanie and Alan White, Wilmington, NC; seven grandchildren, Amy Paiva, Clint Smith, Whitney Vettraino, Erin Barriger, Wesley Williams, Allison and Lauren White; nine great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Chelsea Alumni Association, P.O. Box 391, Chelsea, OK 74016.
Leave your memories of Paul and view his tribute online at www.mmsfuneralhomes.com.