Peter (Pete) Jay Merkle, 79, died of natural causes in Alexandria, January 15, 2019. Pete was born to Norman and Marie Merkle on November 30, 1939 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Prior to Marie meeting Norman, Marie taught a German immigrant boy, Peter Merkle, in her one room school house in Reading, PA. When Pete was born, he reminded his mother of the little boy so she gave him the same name. Pete had a brother James who was killed in an automobile crash in 1968. Pete married Louise Hamilton Forgy in June of 1961. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother and wife of 52 years.
Norman Merkle was called to active duty prior to the Second World War. The family lived on Monroe Street in Alexandria while his father was stationed at Fort Belvoir. The family returned to Reading when his father was ordered to the Panama Canal Zone. Pete spent much of this time with his grandfather, a railroad man. Pete spent many hours at the rail yard and developed a life long love of all trains - full size to model trains.
Pete graduated from Lehigh University Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. While at Lehigh, Pete became a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. He served in several officer positions for the fraternity. He was also introduced to his future wife, Louise. Their first date was a blind date arranged by friends.
A few weeks after graduation, Pete and Louise were married and Pete started a management position at the Bell Telephone Company (Ma Bell). Pete was part of a cadre of managers in an experimental program that rotated the managers through all aspects of telephone operations. Pete and Louise moved frequently when he received a new assignment. Their son, Peter Jay Merkle, Jr. was born while they were in Harrisburg, PA. Pete spent his entire professional career in the telephone industry.
In 1969, Pete and Louise decided that they had had enough of the winters in the mountains of PA so they moved to Florida. Pete often said, “Why move to Florida when you are old? Why not enjoy it when you are young?” They moved to Fort Myers and Pete started work for United Telephone Company, an independent telephone company. Pete became an expert in the separation of revenue between United and the Bell or AT&T companies. Pete testified before the Florida Public Utilities Commission and authored extensive training courses in toll revenue. Pete was a past president of the local chapter of the Independent Telecommunications Pioneer Association. Pete flourished as the person representing the underdog.
Pete fully embraced all the fun activities of the sub-tropical climate in Fort Myers. He learned to swim, became an active boater and sailor.
In 1978, United Telephone transferred Pete to Winter Park, Florida. Pete and Louise purchased a house on a dirt road in the Rolling Hills section of Longwood, Florida. They embraced the young families that moved in over the years. They became the much loved Papa Pete and Ma Lu, grandparents to the neighborhood. They hosted rousing games of dominos with ever evolving rules - Mountain Rules. Pete and Louise also took in and helped many people in need over the years.
Pete will be remembered for many personal and professional accomplishments. His character shone through his faith, his love for Louise, and the care he gave Louise as her muscular dystrophy advanced, eventually taking her life. Pete knew that Louise had muscular dystrophy when they married. He was told that life would be hard and that no one would blame him if he decided to move on. Pete knew he loved Louise and that any hardship would be worth the time he would have with her. On his last day he talked about walking with Louise by the river. He wanted to be with her again, and now he is with his beloved Weezie.
His son, Jay, his Daughter-in-Law, Michele, and his Granddaughter, Maria, survive Pete.
Pete’s Burial of the Dead will be at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday, February 2, 2019. The service will be conducted by Christ the Saviour Anglican Church at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, 8009 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22308.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you follow Pete’s example. Remember Peter as you help someone in need. Those who do wish to donate may send donations to Christ the Saviour Anglican Church, P.O. Box 167 Mount Vernon, Virginia 22121. Please make checks payable to Christ the Saviour Church with Peter Merkle Memorial, in the memo line.