Because of his faith and hope in our Lord, William (Bill) Merkel, born December 6, 1934 was welcomed to his heavenly home on October 25, 2021. Visitation will be held Sunday, October 31 from 4-6 pm at Hamil Family Funeral Home. Services will be held at Southern Hills Church of Christ, Monday, November 1 at 2:00 pm with Steve Ridgell, Robert Oglesby, and Mark Hanner officiating. A private burial will be held Thursday, November 4. Services are under the direction of The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road
Bill was born in Newark, New Jersey to Herman and Adeline Merkel. At the age of one, the family moved to Irvington, New Jersey where he grew up "hanging out with the guys on the block" playing stoopball, kick-the-can, and roller skating in the streets. He attended neighborhood schools and graduated high school in 1953. During a short stint in the National Guard, he met "two great pals." Bill and his pals enjoyed buying clunkers to "transform"; one, they took the top off with a can opener.
Beginning at the age of nine, Bill had a job, always wanting to work. It was in 1955, he walked by a recruiting office, walked in, and joined the U.S. Air Force. His Boy Scout training and time in the National Guard helped him during his training and six weeks at jet mechanic school to study the ins and outs of the B47. In December, Bill drove to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene. The base was brand new and still mostly under construction. He found the dirt road that was the entrance and went up to a little old wood shack to ask where to go. It wasn't hard to find the place, as there were only about three buildings. He was assigned to the 490th bomb squadron. Since the planes had not yet arrived, he helped build the runway.
As Bill and his buddies in the squadron became familiar with Abilene, they snacked at places such as the Dixie Pig and Casey's Drive-in. It was at Casey's, Bill started a conversation with the Abilene Christian College girl in the car next to him. Upon introducing himself as Bill Merkel, her response was "sure you are" thinking he was giving her a fake name by using the town down the road. He had to show her his driver's license. He married this ACC girl, Hymonda Moran in August of 1957, recently celebrating their 64th anniversary.
After 4 years of service to his country and a TDY to Guam, Bill was discharged. He had decided not to re-up because in April of 1959, they were blessed with their first child, Trina Lou and he wanted to be able to stay put in a location (he actually just loved Texas). Upon his discharge, Bill joined his bride as a student at ACC. While working at CEI bookstore and pinching pennies, Bill earned his Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 1964 and later earned a Master of Science in Education in 1968. During college he and Hymonda welcomed their second child, Traci Lyn in 1961.
Bill began his teaching career with Abilene ISD at Travis Elementary teaching sixth grade and coaching, later being assigned to Reagan Elementary. This was just the beginning of an active career as an educator. During his career, Bill developed a science curriculum, and joined the newly established Region XIV Education Service Center in 1970 where he developed the migrant education program, the science and drug education program, and became the first Director of Technology. Throughout his career he was always collaborating to develop more efficient programs. One in which he was extremely proud of was a book he wrote, Judicial Evaluation Model or JEM for short. It is in the Library of Congress.
Bill and Hymonda were founding members of Southern Hills Church of Christ which was originally located at 12th and Chestnut. There, he served as a deacon of education and worked with the growing group of youth. He later served as an elder, providing wisdom and guidance to many. He loved studying God's Word and writing poetry. Bill loved camping trips every summer with his family until "the girls" left the house. Until his death, he spent part of his day working outside on his land. Bill, known as Dad, Grandad, Pop, and husband, held a part of our hearts and we feel that missing piece. His wise advice and over-the-top organization will be missed.
He is preceded in death by his mother-in-law, Mattie Moran; son-in-law, Kelly Ostlien; and parents, Herman and Adeline Merkel.
Bill is survived by his wife Hymonda (Moran) of 64 years; daughters Trina Ostlien and husband Tony Yandell, and Traci and husband Tim Yandell; grandchildren, Makaley and Kauy Ostlien; sister-in-law, Fonda (Moran) Winter; niece, Brandi Mixon and husband Frank; and many in his Christian family.
Pallbearers will be Kauy Ostlien, Scott Senter, John Thacker, Rick Doud of South Dakota, Phillip Holland, Jordan Phillips, Keith Sanders, and Scott South. Honorary Pallbearers are the Southern Hills elders, and their wives, that served with Bill.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Big Brothers Big Sisters in Abilene or the Abilene All Kind Animal Initiative.