Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

James J. 'Jim' Merritt

IRONWOOD, Mich. - James J. "Jim" Merritt, 80, of Ironwood, passed away peacefully on April 16, 2023, at Aspirus Ironwood Hospital, surrounded by his loving family.

Jim was born on May 11, 1942, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Justin J. and Cecelia (Tubridy) Merritt. When Jim was 6, his family moved to Duluth, Minnesota. Jim attended St. Michael's grade school and graduated from Duluth Cathedral High School in 1960.

After graduation, Jim went to work for the Holiday Gas Station in Two Harbors, Minnesota, and he finished a 17-year career with them as a manager in Janesville, Wisconsin. He and his family moved to Hurley in 1977 and ran the New Life Motel for a few years. Jim also owned and operated Merritt's Housekeeping for 26 years. In 2004, he sold the business to his daughter and son-in-law, Melissa and David DeCarlo. Jim then took a job driving for Shillleman Bus Service, transporting special needs students from Ironwood, Bessemer and Wakefield. Jim would say, "Best job ever - it's like being a grandpa to 15 kids each day." Jim ultimately retired after 12 years of driving.

Jim's interests in retirement were preparing and selling his "Papa Jim's Caramel Corn" at the Airport Farmer's Market, raising a couple of backyard chickens, feeding the wild birds, a daily crossword puzzle, and any 50/50 drawing he encountered.

Jim's community accomplishments included he and his family organizing a free Christmas Day dinner at the Iron County Senior Center for 20 years. He helped start and served as treasurer for the Northland Chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship. He helped create and ushered at the Living Water Missionary Assembly and the Lighthouse Faith Center. He was a registered (on ice) official for organized ice hockey. He also worked all levels of USA Youth Hockey and Michigan and Wisconsin high school hockey.

Jim was a sports nut of sorts. He loved the game of ice hockey (especially the race for the cup). He was a Minnesota Vikings fan from the day they were born. But Jim would say, "Wait till next year."

Jim married Mary Lou Brown on Oct. 13, 1962, in Minneapolis. Together they raised four children, and welcomed eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Unfortunately, Mary Lou passed away in 1997. On May 11, 2002, Jim married Mary Beth (Gerry) Rajala, and he gained two stepdaughters and four more grandchildren. They celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2002.

Jim was predeceased by his first wife, Mary Lou; his parents; sister, Maxine, and brother-in-law, David Peterson; brother-in-law, Arne Waldron; mother- and father-in-law, Marlin "Brownie" and Ruth Brown; and John and Peggy Gerry.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Beth; his children, Michael (Paula) Merritt, Colette (James Francis III) Smith, Melissa (David) DeCarlo and Jonathon (Katie Sonesen) Merritt; stepdaughters, Melissa (Tony) Lupino and Kelly (Sean) Rooney; grandchildren, Michael Merritt Jr., Amanda (Carl) Perttula, Nik Merritt, James Francis Smith IV (Liz Belke), Timm (Olivia) Smith, Janell (Adam) Smith, Samantha DeCarlo and Isaac (Katelyn Hanrahan) DeCarlo; stepgrandchildren, Kathryn and Audrey Rooney, and Matthew and Henry Lupino; great-grandchildren, Charles Perttula and Max Leon Smith; brother, Tom (JoAnn) Merritt, and sister, Mary Margaret (Peggy) Waldron; and many nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Jim's life with Rev. Gary Grabow will be held at McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home on Wednesday, April 26, at 11 a.m. preceded by visitation at 10 a.m. Inurnment will be held at a later date at Sunset Acres Cemetery in Ironwood Township.

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