Former Wrangell teacher Carroll Merritt dies at 86

Former Wrangell resident Carroll Merritt, 86, died July 21, 2021, in Fort Benton, Montana. He was born in 1935, the first child of Bonnie and Ves Merritt, of Sturgis, South Dakota. During elementary school the family lived a short time in Deadwood, S.D., but most years were in Sturgis, where both sets of grandparents and other family were close.

Carroll Merritt lived in Wrangell about 20 years, from the late 1960s to late 1980s, working as a teacher, said his widow, Agnes Merritt. They were married 51 years.

He excelled in sports in high school, and played baseball and football in college.

He was a swimming coach in Wyoming and high school basketball coach in Wrangell. As the basketball coach, his team won a Southeast championship in the early 1970s, when Wrangell played in the same division as the larger schools in Southeast, Juneau and Ketchikan, Agnes Merritt said.

He was very proud of “his boys,” she said. “I always thought he was too tough with them,” she said, though she added, “relationships were formed which lasted through the years.”

Carroll Merritt started in Wrangell as a high school teacher, then moved to fifth grade. Agnes Merritt taught first grade and worked as the district’s special education teacher and director.

He also commercial fished in the summers aboard a troller. “He was pretty much good at anything he ever did,” Agnes Merritt said.

Carroll Merritt and his first wife Janet married young and had four children, two of which died as infants. His son, Vince, lives with his wife and his mother in California. Daughter Jane and her husband live in Idaho. An adopted daughter (Agnes’ daughter) died eight years ago in Montana.

His brother Butch Merritt lives in Wrangell, as does his nephew, Brian.

“Carroll used to say that when he got old, he was going to move back to Wrangell and sit on Bob Rooney’s bench on the corner. But he didn’t get old until it was too late,” Agnes Merritt wrote last week in a note to Wrangell friends and family.


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