Merlin L Wilkins, 89, a long-time farmer on Camas Prairie passed away peacefully on September 24th at Marysville Care Center in Marysville WA. He moved to Marysville in mid-August to be near his daughter and her family. Prior to moving to Marysville, Dad lived his entire life on Camas Prairie with exception of two years when he served his country in the US Army. Prior to moving to Marysville, he resided at Meadowlark Assisted in Grangeville where he lived for about 2 ½ years.
Merlin was born on October 29, 1928 in Winona Idaho to Lester M Wilkins and Eva C (Long) Wilkins. He moved to the family ranch out past Tolo Lake-Gill Point as a young child where he lived until he was in high school and the family moved into town.
Merlin was a 1946 graduate of Grangeville High School where he played football, basketball and ran track. He lettered in both football and basketball.
He married Monica “Ruthie” Uhlenkott on July 1, 1950 at Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Grangeville. They moved to the Tolo Lake Ranch and farmed until 1954 when Dad enlisted in the US Army. He spent one year in Korea and was honorably discharged in 1956.
Upon returning to Grangeville Merlin worked at various jobs including the parts department at Gortsema Motors, the Union Warehouse (now Primeland) and tended bar part time at the old Imperial Hotel. In 1960 he moved his family north of town to farm until his retirement in 1997.
In his younger years he was an avid stockcar racer and won his share of trophies racing his numerous #88 cars. In a recent conversation, Dad pointed out “ole Marion (Gortsema) always did a good job keeping the #88 painted and looking sharp.” One of the fondest memories his grandsons hold is sitting on “Grandpa in Grangeville’s” lap watching NASCAR and eating peanuts.
Merlin was no stranger to hard work and had a stellar work ethic which he willingly passed down to his daughter and grandsons. He knew the true meaning of “make hay while the sun shines. As the story goes, about the only time Merlin shut down the harvest operation early was the evening his twin grandsons were born. He was asked why he was quitting so early. His comment was “it’s not everyday a guy gets two grandsons, this calls for a cold one.”
He is survived by daughter Carmen Wilkins Rightmire (Jerry Rightmire) of Marysville WA, grandsons Andrew Wilkins Parker and Stuart Wilkins Parker of Mill Creek WA, brother Ted Wilkins (Mary) of Grangeville, sister in law Patricia U Hagen of Boise and brother in law Jim Uhlenkott (Lynne) of Kamiah and numerous nieces and nephews. He was proceeded in death by his wife of 49 years, his parents, one niece and older sister Jeanie Wilkins Greenrod.
At his request cremation will take place and his remains will be interred at Prairie View Cemetery in Grangeville. There will be no service. In lieu of flowers or monetary contribution to a favorite charity, the family asks that you shake the hand of a veteran, current military person or member of our Law Enforcement and thank them for their service.
Send condolences to Blackmerfuneralhome.com