Merril Duane Thiel

March 21, 1929 ~ April 19, 2019 (age 90)

Merril Thiel, 90, of Bemidji, MN died Friday, April 19, 2019 at Neilson Place, Bemidji.

Memorial services will be 10:30 a.m., Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the United Methodist Church with Pastor Mike Naylor officiating. Family will greet friends one hour prior to the service at the church. Arrangements were entrusted to the Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home, Bemidji.

Merril Thiel was born March 21, 1929 to Carl and Clara (Holte) Thiel in Valley City, ND. The family later moved to Grygla, MN and later to East Grand Forks, MN. Merril grew up on a farm where he and his brothers enjoyed hunting, trapping, working in the soil and tinkering with farm equipment. At age 16 he purchased his first Chevy truck and at age 18 a combine. He and his father combined wheat moving from south to north during the harvest season. Merril served in the Army during the Korean Conflict in the 189th Combat Engineers unit from 1951 to 1953. Their unit was stationed just north of the 19th parallel active in replacing bridges and roads. Merril was a life-long member of the American Legion and the VFW. Upon his return he worked in the winters for the Great Northern railroad and the Western Fruit Express for twenty years. In the summer and fall he worked on road construction, running heavy equipment (paver) for Collins Construction Company for 24 years.  In 1980 he bought in to Northwood’s Ice Company, Bemidji.  Upon his retirement, he has been able to spend time on activities he enjoyed. He was an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, ice fishing, gardening, berry picking, golfing and curling. Merril enjoyed trapping his own minnows for fishing and making his own jigs. He was a top notch fisherman! He also was an active curler of the Bemidji Curling Club playing in bonspiels in the early ‘50’s. He enjoyed playing in the senior curling league. He became a member of the curling club in 1955. He was a director on the curling board and he assisted teaching curling to youngsters. Upon his retirement, he became a member of Bemidji Town and Country golf club. In 1981 Merril transferred his church affiliation from the Lutheran Church to the United Methodist Church of Bemidji. That same year he married Ruth Howe a long time friend and sports companion of his on August 21, 1981 at the United Methodist Church. Together they became active church members participating in church sponsored functions like delivering meals on wheels, helping at funerals (dishwasher etc), ushering, painting, etc. Merril’s top priority was helping the local food shelf. For over 20 years he gleaned each Monday picking up produce for the local merchants.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth Howe of Bemidji; three sisters, Shirley (Jerry) Froseth of Bemidji; Janet Galven of Anoka and Jean Ryan of Mantorville along with a handful of fun loving nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; two sisters, Ramona Chealander and baby sister, Blanche; three brothers, Vernon, Russell and Daniel.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the charity of your choice.

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