John Merritt, ran academy dairy

August 30, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

John R. Merritt, who retired in 1989 as superintendent of the Naval Academy Dairy in Gambrills, died yesterday of lung cancer at North Arundel Hospital. The Severn resident was 76.

Mr. Merritt relished the job of managing the 856-acre farm in Anne Arundel County where 200 cows provided 1,000 gallons of milk daily for the Naval Academy's mess hall.

"He just loved farming every waking hour," recalled a son, Harry W. Merritt of Lexington, Ky. "He was also an ardent Orioles fan."

Born in Lanesboro, Mass., he was reared in West Barrington, R.I., and graduated from high school there.

Working on his grandfather's farm as a boy sparked his lifelong interest in farming. His grandfather had purchased the 200-acre farm in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, using his TTC mustering-out pay after serving in the Civil War.

After graduating from Cornell University in 1937 with a bachelor's degree in animal husbandry, Mr. Merritt worked briefly as a salesman before joining the Army in 1942 where he served with the Counter-Intelligence Corps in the Pacific Theater.

He was awarded the Bronze Star and was discharged with the rank of technical sergeant in 1945.

From 1946 until 1953, he operated four farms in the upstate region of New York and was superintendent of the State University of New York's farming operations before coming to Maryland in 1974.

In a 1977 interview in The Sun, Mr. Merritt reflected on his lifelong career as a farmer.

"You can't make any money in farming. Farmers are learning that. People like this, like myself, are astute enough to realize this halfway along. They counsel their children out of the business and their farms go into the land market where they are bought by lawyers, doctors and dentists, some of whom are their children," he said.

Mr. Merritt is survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Dorothy Miller; four other sons, Steve of Annandale, Va., William H. of Morgantown, W.Va., Grover D. of Upland, Calif., and Robert D. Merritt of Severn; and a daughter, Dorothy Schwartz of Hartsdale, N.Y.

At his request, no funeral services will be held for Mr. Merritt who willed his body to the Anatomy Board of Maryland.

Memorial donations may be made to Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 14853.

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