Merle K. Mitchell

Merle K. Mitchell

FAIRMONT — A visitation celebrating the life of Merle K. Mitchell, 64, of Fairmont, MN, will be held Tuesday, January 9, 2018, at the Lakeview Funeral Home in Fairmont from 3:00-6:00 p.m., with a special time set aside at 6:00 p.m. for those who may wish to share memories and tell stories, either to all in attendance or privately to the family. A private family burial will be held at a later date. Merle died Friday evening, January 5, 2018, surrounded by his family at his home in Fairmont. The Lakeview Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Fairmont is assisting the family with arrangements.

Merle Keith Mitchell was born on October 22, 1953, in Slayton, MN, to Ervin and JoAnn (Roll) Mitchell. He began his education attending school first in Carthage, SD, before moving with his family to Fairmont, MN, where he graduated from Fairmont High School with the class of 1971. Following his graduation, Merle studied accounting at Vocational College in Mankato, MN. Afterward Merle went to school for carpentry and also attended Southeast VoTech, where he pursued a specialty in mechanic work and brakes. He later went on to attend court reporter school, where he met Nancy Puetz.

On October 5, 1991, Merle and Nancy were united in marriage at the St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Dimock, SD. Together the couple would make their home in Sioux Falls, SD, Coeur D’Alene, ID, and Honolulu, HI, before remaining finally in Fairmont, MN. To this union two children, David and Laura, were born.

Merle worked various jobs throughout his life, the longest of which was at Papa D’s Pizza in Blue Earth, MN, beginning as a delivery driver and later advancing to the position of plant manager. Following the outsourcing of the plant, he spent many years working nights at the Fairmont HyVee until his recent retirement. Though never finding the opportunity professionally, he fondly regarded photography of horses, which were his favorite animal.

Most importantly, Merle spent his personal time with his family, cooking, cultivating the many trees and flowers in his backyard, tinkering in the garage, and woodworking. Merle found great joy in reading and maintained an expansive collection of several hundred books, which filled multiple shelves–a few of which he built and painted–and overflowed into stacks, tables, boxes, and bathroom cabinets. From across his broad field of interest, he most valued Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and every Noam Chomsky publication he could find, as well as his set of hardcover Great Books of the World, and many treasured others by Studs Terkel, James Thurber, and Howard Zinn. With his family Merle enjoyed watching Star Trek, Alfred Hitchcock movies starring Jimmy Stewart, and new season dvds of Monk every Thanksgiving. He loved to drink coffee and eat pizza.

Using his stoic and methodical disposition, Merle approached every challenge with a calm, problem-solving mindset, always inventing small contraptions and rigging makeshift household setups from cardboard, tape, and binder clips. Tending toward minimalism in everything but love and learning, he wore the same few button-down shirts for decades and owned few decorations, instead proudly displaying his children’s artwork throughout their home.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Nancy Mitchell, Fairmont, MN; son, David Mitchell, Fairmont, MN; daughter, Laura Willett and her husband, Thomas, Fairmont, MN; mother, JoAnn Mitchell, Fairmont, MN; siblings, Gail Pugsley, Wilmore, KY, Deanna Mitchell, North Mankato, MN, Clayton Mitchell, Le Sueur, MN, and Eileen (Steve Welch) Mitchell, Des Moines, IA; siblings-in-law, Dennis (Carol) Puetz, Sioux Falls, SD, Mark Puetz, Sioux Falls, SD, Mary (Gene) Haeffner, Miller, SD, and Kevin Puetz, Rapid City, SD; as well as many nieces, nephews, and extended family and friends.

Merle was preceded in death by his father, Ervin Mitchell, and his parents-in-law, Walter and Donna Puetz.