Moclips grad, Korean War veteran, retired high school teacher and loved husband, brother, father and grandfather, Merle Weese passed away recently at the age of 88 in Tacoma, Washington. An online celebration of life is being prepared by his grandchildren to be shared with family and friends.
Merle grew up on Grays Harbor/Pacific beaches, raised by his father (Destine), mother (Marjorie) and Don and Maxine (uncle/aunt). After graduating from Moclips Aloha High School in 1950, he worked as a sawyer at the local sawmill, where he proudly retained all his fingers.
He volunteered for the Army in 1952 and married Jeanne Brim, his high school sweetheart from Humptulips and future wife of 68 years. Rising in rank to Master Sergeant, he served overseas as a communication specialist in the Korean War. He attended college in the Philippines then the University of Oregon and the College of Puget Sound (now UPS), where he received his B.A. and subsequent Masters degree.
Had any institution included a curriculum for razor clam digging, Merle would have graduated magna cum laude. No clam was safe, no low tide too early for this lifelong savant digger.
He went on to teach predominantly at Lincoln and Wilson high schools in Tacoma. In 1962, the family moved from Tacoma to Edgewood, where he and Jeanne raised their sons, horses, cows, sheep, dogs, cats and pond fish (no chickens). For 46 years, they nurtured their Puyallup five-acre farm into a kids’ haven and community magnet with a back-stopped baseball diamond, goal-posted football field, lighted basketball court, hockey pond and occasional snowmobile track.
Merle was a sports fan and athlete himself, competing in boxing, basketball and football in the Army, including a brief football stint at UPS. He played saxophone alongside his musical siblings and parents — his mother and father’s recordings were broadcast on Aberdeen radio — and was a member of the Oregon marching band. An aficionado of the Big Band era, his passions included gardening, photography, cars, carpentry, cooking and road trips.
His trademark chili, sauerkraut, peanut brittle, popcorn, cornmeal pancakes, vintage 1951 Austin of England, old movies and giant sunflowers were as prevalent as his indomitable supply of corny jokes. His vicarious “beautiful friendship” with Humphrey Bogart was as enduring as the final scene from Casablanca, his favorite movie.
He is survived by his wife Jeanne, to whom he was devoted; sons Doug (Kimera) and Marv (Cristie); grandchildren Julia (Kyle) and Paul (Haylie); sister Maridel; brother Thomas; and half-sister Ellen and half-brother brother David (Cheryl).