Richard Merrill (54) of Friendswood TX died unexpectedly while hiking in Big Bend National Park on July 2, 2019.
Members of BigBendChat.com, as well as many others who've known Richard over the years, have expressed the desire to help fund his daughter Jennifer's future. Donations in honor of Richard will certainly lessen the forthcoming burden of a college education. At this time, her goal is to become an educator; a teacher. Funds donated will help Jennifer fulfill this dream as well as cover other necessary expenses along the way.
At the time of his death, Richard was a single father with sole custody of his wonderful daughter, Jennifer (age 15). Richard lived in the areas of Clear Lake, Webster, Cypress, and Friendswood for the past 31 years. In that time, he worked for a handful of different companies (mostly contractors to NASA) including Unisys, United Space Alliance, National Oilwell Varco, Hewlett-Packard, Intergraph, and SAIC. Unfortunately, there were some untimely periods of unemployment due to industry layoffs along with corrections in the stock market. Subsequently, a great deal of his finances were used to support his family while out of work.
Jennifer decided to take up tennis about a year ago and has been a very quick learner. Richard played with her several times a week helping her improve her game. It paid off as she and her partner won District Tennis Freshman Girls Doubles 1st Place 2019. Jennifer also took home the "Most Improved Freshman" at the tennis awards banquet just a couple months ago. She's looking forward to playing on Varsity this coming school year as a sophomore.
Over the past year, Richard truly enjoyed teaching Jennifer how to drive; she just received her learner's permit last month but wanted to get an early start on the basics. Family members will continue to work with her to ensure she's ready for the road this time next year.
Richard loved playing trombone in various bands around the Houston area along with his annual pilgrimage back to Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium at The University of Texas at Austin for Longhorn Alumni Band weekend. Since graduating UT in 1988, Richard marched every single year since with the exception of 2018 when he had to have surgery performed on his shoulder. As for the Gulf Coast Concert Band, well, let's just say it's been over 20 years of performing. And when he wasn't playing in the orchestra at Clear Lake United Methodist Church, he was singing in the choir at every possible performance. Again, this has been part of his world for some 30 or so years.
Richard had a true love for Big Bend National Park. This interest was fostered early on in Richard's life by his father, Charlie Merrill, who actually had a degree in Geology from UT. Richard went back countless times to hike the various trails, climb the peaks, view the vistas, and simply take in all of the rough wilderness he could handle. He started taking Jennifer with him just as soon as she was ready, willing, and able; she is a natural. Richard quickly gained a reputation for helping others and providing detailed information to those that asked on the BigBendChat.com forum. He was soon tasked with being the moderator and gladly took on the additional duty of putting out an annual printed calendar of pictures submitted by the forum members. While none of us would wish for this, it's truly fitting that Richard was able to spend his final moments doing what he loved -- hiking Big Bend.
And finally, the only picture being presented here must've been one of Richard's all-time favorites with Jennifer. It was taken in September 2015 at the footbridge on Snow Creek in Yosemite National Park. He used it for his Facebook profile picture, for his phone's lock screen wallpaper, and even had a printed version placed on the back of his phone inside his clear case. He looked at her with love and pride countless number of times per day.
Your contributions to this fund for Jennifer are greatly appreciated and will serve to provide a better foundation for the life she has in front of her. Thank you.