Bert Merrill, 1922 - 2018

Bert Merrill (center) with Patricia Merrill (L) and Jeannette King (R);
Picnic celebrating the merger of Chickasaw Bluff Conservancy
& Friends for Our Riverfront, 2013.
It is with great sorrow that we learned of the death of Bert Merrill in Sarasota, FL on Sept. 24. Bert was a founding member of Friends for Our Riverfront, sharing his deep knowledge of the river, engineering, and this community.

Bert's commitment to public access and protection of the natural beauty of the Memphis riverfront was deep rooted. He was a member of the Chickasaw Bluff Conservancy, whose advocacy resulted in today's Bluffwalk. He and his wife, Patricia were also staunch supporters of their neighborhood, Sea Isle, and helped design and implement the neighborhood's lovely park.

Here is his obituary from the Sarasota "Herald Times" and Memphis "Commercial Appeal," which includes information about his outstanding military and engineering career and his role as Dir. of Physical Plant and Planning at the University of Memphis.

Commander Bergen S. Merrill Jr.
August 26, 1922 - Sept. 24, 2018

Commander Bergen S. Merrill, Jr., CEC, USN passed away on September 24, 2018. He was born on August 26, 1922 in New Orleans, LA and in 1927 moved to their farm in Olive Branch, MS.

After graduation from the US Naval Academy in 1946 (Class of '47), he became assistant navigator on the USS Fargo (CL 106), flagship of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea until 1948 when he transferred to the Civil Engineer Corps. He was with the 105th Construction Battalion, then was the Maintenance Officer for the Kwajalein Naval Base, then Public Works Officer for Midway Island. He was assigned to the Norfolk, VA Naval Base where he met Patricia Bursiek, Ensign, USNR. They were married in 1952. He was then assigned to the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project with duty at the Eniwetok and Nevada Test Sites. He became Chief of the Protective Structures Development Center at Fort Belvoir, VA, then Public Works Officer, Bermuda for four years, then Director of the Engineering Division, Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Washington, DC, and then joined the Construction Directorate, Saigon, Vietnam where he was awarded the Bronze Star.

He then became Director of Physical Plant and Planning at the University of Memphis for 21 years. In Memphis he served in numerous organizations including the Memphis Area Planners Club, President 1971; Tennessee Council for Physical Plant Management, President 1975; Phi Kappa Phi (Memphis State University Honor Society) President 1979; Alternate Member of the Land Use Control Board, City of Memphis and Shelby County, 1979 for 21 years; Featured Engineer for Memphis Society of Professional Engineers, President 1983; Building Committee, Colonial Park United Methodist Church, Chairman, 1986-'88 (designed and built major addition to church); Memphis Joint Engineers Council, Chairman 1987; Emeriti Club, Memphis State University, President 1995 and Engineers Club of Memphis, President, 2004. He was a Registered Engineer in Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois, and Virginia.

Bergen was a wonderful husband and father and will be greatly missed. He is survived by Patricia, his beloved wife of 66 years, five children (all with Civil Engineering degrees from UT Knoxville), and numerous, wonderful grandchildren. He will be interred after a family ceremony at the Sarasota National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Sea Isle Park Neighborhood Association PO Box 171301, Memphis, TN 38187-1301 or Colonial Park United Methodist Church. Arrangements by Toale Brothers Funeral Home.