Merrill John Clouse, 95, of Hope, died Thursday morning, April 13, 2017, at his home.
He was owner and operator of Clouse Food Center, Inc. in Hope. He began his grocery business career when his parents owned the store and he worked behind the candy counter at a young age. He also had worked as a foreman at Noblitt-Sparks, where they made bombs for WWII.
Merrill served in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1942 to 1946. He spent 28 months in the Hawaiian Islands, Guadalcanal and New Britain with the 40th Division, 115th Engineers where he lost most of his right hand in a sawmill accident.
He was a member of Hope Moravian Church.
In 1947, Merrill helped found the Hope Volunteer Fire Department and served as Chief for over 26 years. He was a 50-year member as well.
Merrill was instrumental in founding Hope Heritage Day Celebration, Yellow Trail Museum, the Rural Letter Carriers Museum, Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment and the Hope Merchant’s Association. He was founding president of the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Board.
Merrill was a 70-year member of the Hope American Legion and helped design and create a permanent veterans memorial in the Hope Moravian Cemetery. He was a 70-year member of the Hope Masonic Lodge and was a Past Master.
Merrill was awarded the Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash. And in 1987, he and his wife Norma shared a Sagamore of the Wabash. In 1988, Merrill was chair of the fundraising committee to move the Simmons School from the countryside to its current location. He was a member of the Bartholomew County Historical Society and Hope Lions Club and served on the Hope Economic Development Commission. He served as an officer of the American Association of Meat Packers and the Indiana Meat Packers and Processors Association.
Merrill was a powerhouse of energy and ideas. He loved the Hope community and consistently worked to help it thrive and be a better place to live. He has quietly helped friends and neighbors all his life.
The funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at Hope Moravian Church with Pastor Andy Kilps officiating. Viewing will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the church and one hour prior to the service on Wednesday. Burial will be at Hope Moravian Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be given to the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment Fund.
Born on Nov. 14, 1921, in Hope, Merrill was the son of Inman J. and Lola Robertson Clouse. He married Norma Gilliland on Jan. 17, 1942, by the Rev. Ernest Drebert, and she preceded him in death on April 10, 2016.
Survivors include his children, Loraine “Lori” Wells of San Diego, California, Kathleen “Kathie” Clouse and David (Tammy) Clouse, both of Hope; grandchildren, Chad Clouse of Bloomington and Dustin Clouse of Columbus; sister, Carolyn Gernentz of Hope; sister-in-law, Lucy Gilliland of Hope; several nieces and nephews; and caregivers, Sandy Bense and Monita Emrich.
Merrill is preceded in death by his parents; his wife; grandson, Scott Johnson; nephew, Kevin Gernentz; and his brothers-in-law, Harold Gilliland, Dr. John Gilliland and Lee Gernentz.
Online condolences may be sent to the Clouse family at www.normanfuneralhome.net.