Donald Wallace Merwin Sr. passed away surrounded by family at his home, on June 14, 2018 in Newport, OR. He was 88 and valiantly fought cancer and heart disease for a prolonged period of time.
Don was born in Louisville, Kentucky on February 20, 1930 to Wallace Chapman Merwin and Signe Stenberg Merwin where his father attended Louisville Theological Seminary. He traveled with his parents to North China shortly thereafter. Japanese forces invaded northern China in 1937 and at the end of 1940 Don, his mother, and his four younger siblings returned to the United States due to the increasing likelihood of a U.S. war with Japan. He lived in Ventnor and Rutherford, NJ until returning to Peking (Bejing) in late 1946. In 1948, Chinese Communists headed by Mao Tse Tung gained power, Don went to south central China to work with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to distribute food, supplies, and equipment left behind by the U.S. in China. He returned to the U.S. in 1949 when it became clear that Mao would soon take over the country.
Don graduated from the Peking American School in 1947, the College of Chinese Studies in Peking in 1948, and from Lafayette College with a degree in International Business in 1953. He joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1949. He served for 20 years, including 3 years of active duty on the staff of Commander Naval Forces Far East in Japan.
Don met Pamela Davis Merwin in Long Lake, NY. They were married on October 4, 1954 in the chapel on the Yokosuka Navy Base in Japan. After leaving active duty, Don spent 40 years in international business. As a result, Don and his family lived in New Jersey, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Washington State, and California.
Don and Pam enjoyed a wonderful retirement together in Newport, OR. Don was active in the Newport First Presbyterian Church, the Pacific Maritime and Heritage Center, and a local cancer support group. Don was an avid reader of history and built many detailed wooden ship models. He enjoyed traveling and spending time with his family in the home he designed.
Don and Pam were married for 63 years at the time of his passing. Don was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Robert Bruce. He is survived by his wife Pam of Newport, OR, and his children: Donald W. Merwin Jr. (Ana) of Clackamas, OR, Susan Merwin Roebber (Michael) of Newport, OR, and Alison Merwin VanGorp (Brett) of Hereford, AZ. He cared deeply for his grandchildren who include: Audrey Merwin, Rebecca and Ben Roebber, and Thea and Jackson VanGorp. Don’s surviving siblings include: Paul Merwin, Alma Goecker, David Merwin, and Douglas Merwin.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, July 21, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at Newport First Presbyterian Church. For those who would like to make a donation in Don’s memory, please consider a gift to Newport First Presbyterian Church.