John A. Merrill, 104, Shawnee, with 90 years in scouting to his credit, is believed to be the, oldest continuously registered Boy Scouts of America volunteer in the nation.
Merrill was handed scouting's Above and Beyond Award at Canadian Valley BSA District's annual recognition banquet at First Baptist Church last month.
He said, "thank you, thank you very much. I appreciate it," as he received the award and a standing ovation, said James Marshall, Shawnee, Canadian Valley District chairman.
Merrill was 14 when he first became a scout May 1, 1919, by joining Troop 2 in Lawton. He later transferred to Troop 1, Cherokee, then Troop 2, Nowata.
"His father was a minister and every time they moved, his father would start a Scout troop," Marshall said. The first Boy Scout troop in the United States was started in Pawhuska, in 1910.
Shawnee's first one, Troop 7, was organized by Merrill's father, the Rev. W.A. Merrill in 1924 at First Christian Church, soon after he became pastor.
John Merrill, who attained the rank of 2nd Class Scout, began his long career as an adult scout volunteer May 29, 1924, at age 19 when he became assistant scoutmaster of Troop 7, later renamed Troop 407.
He has maintained a relationship with Troop 407, First Christian Church, continuously since 1924, as assistant scoutmaster, troop committee member, institutional representative or scouting coordinator. He's now its Scoutmaster Emeritus.
The Canadian Valley District presented him its first Scoutmaster Emeritus Award in 1988, more than four decades after Merrill received the Silver Beaver Award for Distinguished Service to Boyhood in 1941.
Merrill also holds the District's Award of Merit, Adult Religious Award, Scouter's Training Key and Wood Badge as well as his newest, the Above and Beyond Award.
Canadian Valley District has nominated Merrill for the Silver Antelope Award, Boy Scouts of America's highest honor.
He "lives the Scout oath," the nomination letter states, "volunteering his time and efforts helping others, trying to do good deeds."
Last December marked the 90th continuous year Merrill has been a registered scout and scouter.
"As far as we know, he is the oldest continuously registered scout volunteer in the country," said Bill Ford, Shawnee, a longtime scouting volunteer himself. "I think it would be very hard to refute it because he goes so far back."
Since 1924, Merrill has been a scoutmaster, helped organize a troop, vice-chairman and chairman of senior scouting, commodore of Sea Scouts and cubmaster of Pack 1, Shawnee; Member, Last Frontier Council, Canadian Valley District chairman and vice-chairman, neighborhood commissioner, district commissioner, brotherhood member of Order of the Arrow; served on the District Eagle Scout Board of Review and Eagle Scout Court of Honor for more than 10 years; and was a merit badge counselor. He continues as scouting advisor to Troop 407.
Merrill took boys to Philmont Scout Ranch, N.M., beginning in 1947, and on many other local, district and national level camping trips that "are the stuff of local Scout lore," the nomination letter states.
Born Nov. 8, 1905 in Decatur, Texas, Merrill graduated from Nowata High School and attended Oklahoma Baptist University, Phillips University and American Institute of Banking.
He was assistant cashier at Federal National Bank, Shawnee, from 1927 to 1948; vice-president and secretary of First Federal Savings and Loan, Shawnee, from 1948 until retirement in 1970. Merrill was a Realtor with W.C. Gouldy Realty, Shawnee, from 1970 to 1981. He was president of Oklahoma Savings and Loan League Employees Alliance in 1952.
Merrill and the late Margaret Moorer Merrill of Shawnee, were married Sept. 1, 1935. Their sons are Mike Merrill, Shawnee, and Will Merrill, Blowing Rock, N.C. The couple had been married 53 years when Margaret Merrill died in 1988.
In 1981, Merrill began extensive community volunteer work when he became a docent at Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, giving monthly tours for many years.
Merrill joined Shawnee Regional (now Unity) Hospital Volunteers in 1984 as the group's first male volunteer and served four mornings per week until he was about 97, then scaled back his service to one morning per week.
"But he was still there every week," Mike Merrill said. He took patients flowers, books, carried records to various doctors' offices and the emergency room. "As he once said, he ‘wheeled old folks around,'" Mike Merrill said.He retired at age 101 after being honored locally and by the Oklahoma Hospital Association.
Merrill was named Volunteer of the Year in 1993; and Shawnee Community Hero for "outstanding contributions to the Shawnee area through volunteerism," in 1998. KWTV recognized him in its "Spirit of Oklahoma" series also in 1998.
The City of Shawnee proclaimed Nov. 8, 2005, his 100th birthday, as John Merrill Day. Proclamations citing his 100th birthday and community contributions came from the governor, state senate and house of representatives.
Merrill served First Christian Church from Sunday school teacher and choir member to deacon, church board chairman; elder and elder emeritus. Oklahoma Christian Mens Fellowship named him Layman of the Year in 1975-1976.
He was a longtime member of and headed Shawnee Kiwanis Club and Masonic Lodge; was very active in American Lung Association, Salvation Army and Red Cross Advisory Boards and helped establish Faith 7.
Merrill lived alone in the home he'd occupied since 1963 until last year when he moved into Rose Manor, mainly due to mobility problems.