FARMINGTON – Merle Harvey Smith, lifelong resident of Farmington, ended his life’s journey on November 12, 2021. He was at home with his loving family.
Merle was born on October 14, 1933, son of Harvey Moses Smith and Mildred Brown Smith of West Farmington. Merle’s childhood was spent in West Farmington. His early education began in the neighborhood school, and it was here that he met some of his lifelong friends. Merle began house painting with his father in his youth. In the summer before 8th grade, Merle discovered he had what he guessed was a hernia. Without mentioning this to his parents, he went to see the local doctor. The doctor confirmed the diagnosis, so Merle made a deal. If the doc would operate, Merle would paint his house. The good doctor agreed, and after his recuperation, Merle painted his house! During his high school years, Merle excelled at football, and was co-captain of the team in his senior year. Merle’s good-natured personality made him a popular classmate, and his circle of life-long friends grew during these happy years. Some of his best times were spent with his pals at his father’s camp in Stratton. Merle graduated from Farmington High School in 1952, and soon after enlisted in the Army. Following basic training, he was assigned to the Army’s First Division and was eventually sent to Germany, where he spent 2 ½ years. He was always proud to be a part of “The Big Red 1”, and remained a true patriot all his life. Following enlistment, Merle joined his father in the painting business. He carried on after his father’s passing, hiring many crews for big jobs. For more than 50 years, Merle painted countless houses in the area and also did interior painting and wallpapering. When he wasn’t painting, Merle enjoyed many adventures with his friends, including cross-country trips to California and Florida. Merle wanted his own camp and enlisted the help of his old pals for the project. Together, his crew had the carpentry skills needed to create an impressive little camp on Stony Brook in Stratton. In the winter of 1960, Merle rented his camp to the Ski Club from then Farmington Teachers College. He drove to Stratton early to get a fire started and was carrying wood into the camp, when the skiers arrived. One of the club members was a bubbly, vivacious co-ed named Elizabeth Stevens. According to family legend, it was “love at first sight”, and Liz and Merle were married the following September. The young Smiths loved entertaining, and for many years hosted Saturday night card parties and impromptu dinners, inviting many friends from around Farmington. Their house was always “open” and all who came to the door were welcomed. Merle and Lizzie were blessed with four children, Sharon, Stacey, Joel, and James Harvey Smith, who died in infancy. Merle was proud of his family and during his retirement, he especially loved watching his son, Joel, coach and his grandchildren play soccer. He and Lizzie were also seen on many wintry days, wrapped in overcoats and scarfs, watching the grandkids compete in ski meets at Titcomb Mountain. He was a loving “Bumpa” to Sadie Farrand, Sam and Josh Smith, and Jessica, Eben and Levi Bouchard. Merle never met a stranger and never passed a hitchhiker, and on one occasion, he picked up a young student who needed a ride home after basketball practice. His name was Freddie Lesperance, and not long after that first encounter, Freddie moved in with the Smiths in order to be closer to Farmington schools. Freddie became like another son to Merle and Liz and remains a much loved part of the Smith family. Merle loved music and he loved to dance the Polka with Lizzie. He always kept in touch with his classmates from high school and his many close friends, sharing coffee, donuts and local news. He will be remembered for his warm smile and generosity. He was always willing to lend a hand to any who needed help.
Merle is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Elizabeth; his children, Sharon Bouchard and husband Mike, Stacey Farrand and husband Chuck, Joel Smith and wife Karen; the grandchildren mentioned; great grandchildren, Zoe and Ronan Bouchard; his sister, Gaynelle Yeaton; his brother, Brent Smith and wife Bertha; several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents; his infant son; his sister, Elaine Smith Cote; nieces, Melanie and Celeste Cote; brother in-law , Lawrence Yeaton; and nephew, Stephen Yeaton.
His loss is deeply felt by extended family, Fred and Jo Lesperance and their children; Elizabeth’s six siblings, their spouses, and many nieces and nephews from the Stevens side of the family. They all loved their Uncle Merle!
The family extends a heartfelt gratitude to caregivers, Charlene Corbett and Robin Hackala, for their invaluable help and for their kindness and love for Merle. The gentle and caring Hospice workers from Androscoggin Health Care were also a great comfort in Merle’s last days.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Merle’s memory may be sent to Henderson Memorial Baptist Church, Attn: Ann Bryant, PO Box 147, Farmington, ME 04938, where he was a member.
Liz and her family will have calling hours on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, from 5 to 7 pm, at Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 488 Farmington Falls Rd., Farmington, ME 04938. A funeral service will be held on Friday, November 26, 2021 at 1 pm at the Henderson Memorial Baptist Church, 110 Academy St in Farmington, with a reception immediately following.