MARS HILL – Jim L. Merkel, 79, went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Feb. 11, 2008, after a 15-year battle with prostate cancer and later acute leukemia. He was born April 14, 1928, in Llano, Texas, the son of Fritz and Harriet (Ratliff) Merkel. Jim entered the Army at age 17 in 1946 and in 1947 when it branched off he went with the Air Force. He was active duty for six and one half years, serving part of his career overseas in Korea during the Korean War. He later came to Presque Isle air base, where he met his future wife, Elizabeth Graves. They were married Nov. 10, 1954, in a double wedding along with Elizabeth’s sister, Sara Ann and Larry Smith. He stayed with the reserves after leaving active duty and retired as a master sergeant after 23 years. He worked for Maine Public Service for a short while, before going to work for A T & T Telephone Co., where he worked for more than 30 years retiring in December 1984. After his wife retired in 1989, they spent their summers at their home in Mars Hill and their winters starting in Tuscon, Ariz., and in later years in San Antonio. He was a member of United Baptist Church, Mars Hill, for more than 50 years. Where he was a Sunday school teacher, leader in the Boy’s Brigade for many years, as well as an usher. He was also very faithful in visiting the elderly in the nursing home. While in San Antonio, he attended Valley HI Baptist Church, and was a member of the XYZ Club. He loved his garden and his yard, most summer days, you would find Jim either out working in his garden, both vegetable and flowers or mowing his lawn. He was very particular with his lawn and took great pride in his yard and his flower garden. He especially loved going to Merkel Ranch, Mason, Texas, with his sons and grandsons. He is survived and will be greatly missed by his loving wife of 54 years, Elizabeth G. Merkel; three children, son, Pastor James F. Merkel and his wife, Robin, of Maxton, N.C., daughter, Susan A. Anderson and her husband, Gordon, of Mars Hill, and son, Harold S. Merkel and his wife, Kara, of Houston, Texas; nine grandchildren, Lauren, Isaac, Zachery and Hannah Merkel of North Carolina, Jordan and Daniel Anderson of Portland, Lacy Anderson and her fianc?, Spencer Caron, of Fort Kent, and Austin and Victoria Merkel of Houston; a brother, Carl Merkel of Leander, Texas; sisters, Lorene Gavit of Seguin, Texas, Della Grizzell of Hobbs, N.M., Mary Reed and Patricia “Bobbie” Ratliff of Llano, Texas; and also leaves behind nieces and nephews; as well as sister and brothers-in-law, David and France McKay, Carl and Joyce Stearns, George “Bud” and Norma Graves, and Larry and Ann Smith; and will also be missed by a special friend, Tech. Sgt. Johnnie Bork of San Antonio, who is stationed in the Air Force, and is like an adoptive grandson to both Jim and Elizabeth. He was predeceased by his parents; sisters, Polly Bruce and Lou-Ethel Shaheen; a brother, Billy Merkel; and in-laws, John and Viva Graves. The family gives special thanks to Dr. Ramanini and the staff at the oncology office at The Aroostook Medical Center; Dr. Hanf, who looked after Jim while he was in the hospital, even coming in on his days off to see him. The family also appreciates the many visits by Dr. Nicholas, and the wonderful care from the hospice program. Relatives and friends may call 2-5 p.m. Sunday at Duncan Funeral Home, Mars Hill. Funeral services will be conducted 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at United Baptist Church, Mars Hill, with the Rev. James F. Merkel officiating. A spring interment will be at Fairmount Cemetery, Presque Isle. Those who wish may make donations in Jim’s memory to United Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 382, Mars Hill, ME 04758. Condolences may be expressed at www.duncan-graves.com.