Robert Merritt Jr. (Bob) was born on Oct. 11, 1926, in Henderson, Ky. He was the son of the late Allena Grizzard. He had one sister who he looked up to and adored, the late Jessye Reese. At an early age, he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1946. While in high school and college, he was a stellar athlete and scholar. He received numerous awards for football, basketball, track and field, citizenship and service.
He began college at Tennessee A&I.State College (now Tennsesse State University) in Nashville, Tenn., and transferred to Maryland State College (now University of Maryland Eastern Shore), where he graduated in 1951. After graduation, he served in the military for two years.
He began his teaching career at Maryland State in 1953. In 1960, he moved to Charles County where he served as a physical education teacher at Pomonkey Junior Senior High school until 1969. He continued to serve in Charles County Public Schools in a variety of positions until he retired as a vice-principal from LaPlata High School. One of his previous assignments was as vice-principal at Thomas Stone High School.
Sports were his passion. He coached track and field, football, and basketball, working with various age groups from junior high to semiprofessional. During his long-term illness, many of his players continued to keep in touch with him through letters, phone calls and visitations. One of his favorite activities was watching football, basketball, golf, track and field whether it was live or on television.
He was a caring and devoted husband of 58 years to Helen Johnson Merritt and a loving and wonderful father to three children, John Wilson (former DC Council Chair), Natalie Merritt Hart and Robin Merritt. He enjoyed spending time with family at cookouts, reunions and holiday celebrations. He was a generous man who offered encouraging words, time and monetary support to anyone in need.
Bob peacefully departed this life on October 25 in LaPlata, Md. He was preceded in death by his son, John, and daughter, Robin.
He leaves to mourn and celebrate his life and legacy his loving, devoted wife and friend, Helen; his daughter, Natalie; his son-in-law, Will; his daughter-in-law, Bonnie Wilson; his granddaughter, Jessyca (Lionel); two great grandchildren, Darrius and A’Kiya; sister-in-law, Juanita Johnson; his cousins, Roderick Hasal and Felicia H. Murphy-Phillips (Benjamin) who was like a daughter, James Slater (Ann) and Walter who were like sons; Esaw Ford (a special person who supported Bob and Helen as a chauffeur, fix-it-man, confidant, and friend); and a host of other relatives and friends.