Merle Thomas Smith, 80, of Fort Atkinson, formally of Evansville, passed away on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017.
He was born on Aug. 17, 1937 at Jenks Maternity Home in Darlington, the second son of Mary Chambers-Hanson and Ed Smith.
Merle grew up in Darlington and graduated from Darlington High School in 1955 and later graduated from Platteville with a civil engineering degree.
He was united in marriage to Colleen Jill Smith on Sept. 14, 1957, at Lamont Methodist Church. Following their marriage, they lived in San Diego and San Francisco while Merle served in the U.S. Navy. Merle received Honorable Discharge from the Navy in 1963. Merle and his family returned to Darlington for a short time before moving to Fort Atkinson, and then to Burlington in 1981.
Merle worked as an engineer for the Wisconsin Electric Power Company in 1963, and as an engineer for the Wisconsin Natural Gas Company from 1968-1994. They moved to Evansville, where Merle became the Superintendent of the Evansville Water and Light Company before retiring in 2000. After retiring, they enjoyed spending their winters in Gulf Shores, Ala. He was an avid golfer and an active member the Evansville Golf Course, a Wisconsin Badger sports fanatic, a professional connoisseur of a great slice of pie, and an energetic Texas Hold ‘em and Euchre card player with his friends at the Reena Assisted Living Facility, which he resided from 2016 until his passing.
Merle was a family man in every sense of the word. He married the love of his life and created a family surrounded in adoration. He loved his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren without pause and would walk to the ends of the earth to provide for any of them. After his wife’s passing, Merle moved back to Fort Atkinson to be closer to family.
He is survived by his three children: Stacey (Mike) Reel, and Kathy Dorn both of Fort Atkinson, and Jay (Kelly) Smith of East Troy; six grandchildren, Melissa Krahn, Kristen Lindsey, Kaitlin Dorn, Samuel Lenz, Andrea and Trey Smith; and four great-grandchildren, Ava, Parker, Maximus, and Evelyn; a sister, Barbara (Vern) Tollakson of Berlin; an aunt, Agnus Smith of Beloit, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Colleen “Jill,” of 58 years, his mother Mary Chambers-Hanson, father, Ed Smith, and brother and sister-in-law, Morris and Mayme Smith, and brother-in-law, Gary Soper.
A Memorial Service was held on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, 12:00 p.m. at Nitardy Funeral Home, Fort Atkinson where Pastor Bryan Engfer officiated. Family and friends were received at the funeral home on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until the hour of service. A fellowship reception followed the service. Inurnment will be in the Darlington Cemetery at a later date. Nitardy Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements, leave condolence messages at www.nitardyfuneralhome.com