Merle (Mel) LaRoy Eldridge
Merle Eldridge passed away October 26, 2014 in Medford, Ore. at the age of 86. Merle was born December 27, 1927 in Santa Ana, Calif. to William (Bill) and Bessie (McClain) Eldridge.
He graduated from Downey High School in Downey, Calif. in 1945 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1946 from San Francisco, Calif. attending boot camp at SAC (Strategic Air Command) Field in San Antonio, Texas. He attended Wire Technician Telephone & Telegraph School at Scott Field in St. Louis, Ill. and served over a year as an instructor before going to Japan in 1947 with the Occupational Forces. He was honorably discharged in 1949 at the rank of Sergeant and came to the Applegate Valley in Jackson County, Ore. where he attended Southern Oregon University in Ashland.
In 1950, he married Eva Marie Clemmer after which a job transfer sent him to Hanford, Calif. They had two daughters, Darcy Lea (Mark) Burns and Billie Jean (Chuck) Taylor, who both survive.
In 1963, he married Shirley Mae Bratvoid and they had one daughter, Denise Mae Dunfield, who survives. He also had a step-son from this marriage, Vernon Del La Torre, who preceded him in death.
He is survived by five grandchildren, Trevis and Karlie Burns and Tracey, Darcie, and Charles "Cody" Taylor; along with 11 great-grandchildren; and two nieces, Ramona (Davis) Burgess and Lenore (Davis) Woods. His sister, Opal Joy (Eldridge) Davis, also survives him. He was preceded in death by both parents and his nephews, William Wesley Davis and Edson Davis.
Merle worked at Swift and Co., Nic L Silver Battery Co., and Douglas Oil Co. before opening and operating Westwood Liquors in Napa Ca. During their retirement, Merle and Shirley traveled extensively in their motor home seeing much of the country.
Merle was a member of VFW Post 9300 in Napa serving as Commander and District Commander. He continued service with VFW Post 3232 upon moving to Florence, Or. in 1988. As a Mason, Merle served in many capacities up to including Worshipful Master in 1993. He was a member of the Scottish Rite, York Rite, Knights Templar and Shriners and served as an Elder of the Presbyterian Church of the Siuslaw in Florence.
In 2013, Merle moved to Twin Creeks Retirement in Central Point, Ore.
A private family memorial service will be held at the Eagle Point National Cemetery in Eagle Point, Ore. According to Merle's wishes, no other service will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations will be gratefully accepted by the Shriners Hospitals for Children.