Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Merrill

TomScarborough - The Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Merrill died peacefully July 8, 2014 at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough after years of health issues but especially those of the last two months. He was born January 6, 1935 in Portland, Maine, the son of George S. and Sarah C. Merrill. He attended the Prescumpscot and Cummings schools and graduated in 1953 from Portland High School. During those years he swam for the Portland Boys Club and Portland High swim teams. He was an Eagle Scout and worked for many years on the waterfront at Camp Hinds in Raymond. Tom attended Bowdoin, Portland Junior College, and Gorham State Teachers College, graduating from Gorham in 1958.

At the Maine Annual Conference held at Chestnut Street United Methodist Church in Portland in 1956, Tom decided to follow in the footsteps of his clergy forebears that he so admired. In July of 1957, he was appointed as a student minister to the Chebeague Methodist Church on Chebeague Island. He was ordained a Deacon in 1959 while attending Boston University School of Theology. Upon receiving his STB from BUSTH in 1962, he was ordained an elder at the Maine Annual Conference at Peoples UMC, South Portland. In 1989 Tom received a Doctor of Ministry degree also from BUSTH. About the same time he received his Doctorate, he was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame for his years of swimming for Portland High School. Some of his parishioners at THUMC then dubbed him “Doc Jock.”

During his 55 years in active ministry Tom also served United Methodist churches in York and Ogunquit from 1962 to 1967 and First UMC in Brewer from 1967 to1973. During those years he could often be found at our Methodist Church Camp, Mechuwana, in Winthrop either as a counselor or as a dean. In 1973 Tom left the parish ministry for a different type of ministry when he was asked to apply for and became Executive Director of Methodist Conference Home in Rockland. During his tenure there the Home pioneered in many of the services now available for seniors today – housing, congregate services, meals, transportation, etc. In 1985, the call came to return to the parish and he was appointed to Thornton Heights UMC in South Portland, which he served until going to the United Methodist Foundation in Salem, NH in January of 1996. He returned to Maine in October of 1997 and was appointed to Clark Memorial UMC in Portland from which he retired in 2001. However, in October of 2002 he was asked to serve as an interim for a month at Good Shepherd UMC in Gray. That “interim” lasted until June of 2012 when he again “retired.” Health issues pre-dominated the next couple of years.

He was predeceased by his brothers, Donald H. and William Merrill. Tom is survived by his wife of almost 58 years, Beverly Cummings Merrill; his daughter Martha E. Ames of Essex Junction, VT and her husband Daniel F. Ames; his daughter Laura E. Church of Vienna, ME and her husband Brian J. Church; his son John K. Merrill of Stafford, VA and his wife Janet Merrill. His beloved grandchildren are: Jennifer M. Ames of Camden, ME and her daughter Haley Simmons, Daniel C. Ames of Rockland, Sarah E.M. Ames and Hannah R. Ames of Essex Junction, VT; Rachel E. Church of Portland and her husband Nevins Bartolomeo, Rebekah E. Church of Philadelphia, PA, and Michael B. Church of Gorham and his wife Katie Church; Jessica Merrill and Tiffany Merrill of Stafford, VA. He is also survived by many nephews and nieces.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Tom’s name to the United Methodist Camp in Winthrop, ME. They should be sent to Mechuwana, P.O. Box 277, Winthrop, ME 04364.

Visiting hours will be Friday, July 11, from 5-7 p.m. at Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road, South Portland.

A Celebration of Life will be held on July 12, at 1 p.m. at the Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church, 280 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth. Interment will be July 14, at 10:30 a.m. at Intervale Cemetery in Livermore, Maine.