Obituary: Peter C. Merrill
Peter C. Merrill, a renowned marine surveyor and appraiser who started in the river business when he was 20, died April 10 at Marymount Nursing Home, near St. Louis, Mo., where he was recovering from a series of falls. He was 77. Pete had joined his mother, Louise, at Merrill Marine Service in St. Louis, in 1964. He took over the business in 1990, when she retired. His father, who had started the company after a career at The Valley Line, died earlier.
Merrill expanded the firm over the years, adding offices in Paducah and New Orleans and wherever his surveying jobs required extra bodies on site. Rivermen such as James “Goat” Patterson, Steve Parsons, Norm Antrainer, Jim Pritchard, J. Stuart Corsa, Bruce Mechling, Bill Carrier, Bill and Jim Manley, Darwin Dupuis, Sammy Gardner, William Kellum, Dudley Yeomans and others would pass through the ranks at the firm, later to become well known on their own, having honed their trade at Merrill Marine.
He was a ubiquitous figure, seemingly everywhere at once. Ask any group of river industry folks about him and the question would in every case be greeted with a grin, such was his penchant for good-natured fun. While many will attest to his encyclopedic recall of names and events on the river, others will tell of his athleticism, and still others of his intellect.
The company’s surveying, appraisal and consulting services are being continued under the management of Jim Garrett, who, formerly with American Electric Power, joined Merrill Marine Service in September 2020.
A celebration of life is being planned for late July.