Merlon Mathias Kotila, 94, passed away April 24, 2019 at the Sakakawea Medical Center, Hazen, ND. Visitation will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 PM CDT, Thursday, May 9, 2019 at Barbot Funeral Home, Beulah with a service starting at 7:00 PM.
Services will be held at 2:00 PM CDT, Thursday, June 27, 2019, at Savo Lutheran Church, Rural Frederick, SD.
Merlon was born in the Richland Township of SD on August 24, 1924 to Oscar and Helen Kotila, the second of four children. He grew up on the family farm while attending rural elementary school. He graduated from Frederick High School in 1942. Merlon was the last surviving member of his graduating class.
On October 7, 1944, Merlon married Mary Maxine Drumm. They celebrated fifty-five wonderful years together before her passing in October of 1999. Merlon and Mary were the parents of seven children – Tracy, Lynne, Richard, Kathleen, Marsha, a stillborn son, and Vicki.
Merlon served as a radio operator in Japan in World War II during the US occupation. Following his honorable discharge, he became a cooperative elevator manager working in Dahlberg, SD and Kadoka, SD. He then was in business for himself before returning to Frederick, SD where he worked as a Farmers Union Salesman. Merlon became the Frederick Postmaster in 1967, a job he held until his retirement in 1987.
In the fall of 1998, Merlon and Mary moved to California to be near their children Vicki and Richard. Merlon continued to live in California for several years after Mary’s passing. Eventually, Merlon chose to move back to the Dakotas, first settling in Aberdeen, SD. He became active in the Retired Postmasters Association and Retired Federals. He also served weekly as a volunteer at St. Luke’s Hospital. His final move was to the Hazen-Beulah area of ND to be closer to his daughter Kathy and her family and his daughter Tracy Griffin.
With his sharp mind, Merlon was the family historian and likely Scrabble champion. He shared many memories and stories with everyone throughout the years. He was a proud Finn and an expert on the Finnish history around the Savo area near Frederick, SD. His personality personified the Finnish Sisu!
Merlon enjoyed traveling. He and Mary visited nearly every US state, as well as Puerto Rico. Merlon had several memorable trips with his children. He and Vicki traveled to Finland to see relatives and the area where his family originated; he, Marsha, and Randy took a cruise to Alaska; and he, Kathy, and Glenn visited Vicki and Al in Australia.
Some favorite activities for Merlon were the Finnish sauna, Finnish music and music of all types, hunting with family and friends, discussing politics, and reading and discussing history and current events. Merlon was a man who lived life fully and with great gusto!
Merlon was predeceased by his wife Mary, his parents, his brothers LuVerne and Clayton, his daughter Lynne, and his stillborn son. He is survived by his sister Mary Luella Lematta; his children Tracy Griffin, Richard (Jane) Kotila, Kathleen (Glenn) Podoll, Marsha (Randy) Jensen, and Vicki (Alan) Mueller; 11 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.
Arrangements conducted by Barbot Funeral Home, Beulah and Hazen.