Peacefully, following a gradual and then sudden decline, it is with joy for a life well lived and peace that his struggle is over, we announce the passing of a kind, gentle man, husband of 63 years, father and grandfather. The love of his life, Pat passed in 2014.
Merv will be lovingly remembered by his 7 children Joanne, Judy, Marlene (Jeff Lein), Merv Jr. (Kathy), John (Carolyn), Margaret, and Brenda (Dale) Richardson, a dozen grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren, brother Keith, and sister / brothers-in-laws Carol (Tom) Kowalchuk, Kenny Hay, Dorothy (Glen) Campbell, Jeannette Hay, and many nieces and nephews.
Dad was raised on a farm one mile west of Ninette. He is the third of 7 children born to Milton and Kathleen (nee McLeod). His early years were marked by the economic crisis and struggles of the great depression.
In the summer of 1950 Patricia Hay took a job at the Sanatorium in Ninette. A chance phone call brought Mervin and Pat together – made for each other, they married in January 1951. In the years that followed they endured the challenges and enjoyed the benefits of raising a family of 7, from humble beginnings. We recall fondly the 25th, 50th and 60th anniversary celebrations.
Dad had a remarkable and successful career as a roadbuilder, starting with only a grade 8 education:
Age 4-ish to 22: Farm labourer for his Dad and Uncle Bert, at a time when horses were still commonly used to work the fields. He became very physically strong and developed deep understanding of the merits of long, hard hours of work. You can take the boy from the farm, but you cannot take the farm from the boy – Dad was a lifetime gardener, growing enough tomatoes each year for his entire family.
Ages 23-32: Following the death of his Uncle Bert, he joined other uncles working for Commonwealth Construction. He started as a heavy equipment operator but quickly learned the components of the complete process.
Ages 33 to 45: After a brief move to Thompson, Dad moved his family to Winnipeg taking a foreman role with Royal Paving. Over these years he progressed to superintendent - deeply involved in road building projects from tendering to on-site project management. At age 40 Dad jumped at the opportunity to become a minority partner. Shortly afterward, the first Manitoba NDP government made the commitment to pave the road from Gypsumville to Thompson – it was a boom time for road construction in the province! When Dad was age 45 Royal Paving was sold.
Ages 46 to 75: Dad worked for Riverside Gravel as Superintendent of road construction. For 30 years he practiced his trade at a high level, earning his company Manitoba Highways Awards of Excellence for paving contracts. During the winters Dad would scout for gravel close to upcoming tenders. During the summers, he managed the tenders that were won.
We expect that Dad travelled every highway and backroad in Manitoba at sometime during his career. He knew and was friends with farmers on whose land was gravel, truckers, construction workers, and Manitoba Highways employees. He liked people and people liked him. He successfully competed in a field where most of his peers would have engineering degrees.
Dad was blessed with a strong body and mind and had a good share of luck. He survived a ruptured appendix at age 28, a bleeding aortic aneurysm at age 81 and COVID infection at age 89 prior to vaccine availability. He was able to walk on his own until 10 days before his last breath.
Dad’s greatest love and legacy is his family. In addition to sharing common roots and values - both he and Mom loved kids. Dad also greatly valued and encouraged education / personal development – his family reflects his life and his aspirations – occupations include farming, trades / project managers, public service, entrepreneurs and highly trained professionals.
Dad and Mom were long-time members of the Presbyterian Church and both were loving and generous with their time and resources. Their lives exemplified the words of William Penn: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again”.
Dad spent the last 4+ years of his life in Maples Personal Care Home. His sweet and gentle nature earned him many friends amongst fellow residents and staff. Family expresses sincere and profound gratitude to all management and staff at the Maples, particularly the aides on 2W who provided his daily care with love and compassion.
Flowers are gratefully declined. Should you wish to honor our Dad, please consider a donation that provides opportunity or support to children. Dad was always a supporter of youth who were trying to advance themselves through travel or education.
Cremation has taken place and a public celebration of Dad’s life will take place in May 2024.
We understand that there are many questions that arise when a death occurs. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions you may have and provide direction. Please call us if you require immediate assistance.