Ralph Christian Merz, Jr. – known as “Buck” to the many family and friends who loved him – passed peacefully April 30, 2020 at The James Cancer Center at The Ohio State University after a life passionately well-lived. Buck arrived August 8, 1951 on his big sister’s birthday in Columbus, Ohio, and the world was forever changed by the sparkle in his blue eyes. He reminisced fondly of his early years with his five siblings and many friends, recounting his broken bones, stitches, and narrow escapes from wild adventures. Feeling a call to serve his country, Buck left South High School and enlisted in the US Army with his brother Bobby. He was proud to serve in Vietnam, along with a stint in Germany, where he explored his Merz family heritage.
Back in the states, Buck applied his sharp mind to managing precision scale manufacturing at H.J. Fuller Company and Mettler Toledo Scale. He loved playing softball, traveling to National Parks to confront bison and bears eye-to-eye, winning your money at cards, playing guitar, hunting, fishing, and cheering on the Reds, the Bengals, and the Buckeyes. Generous with his skills and time, Buck joined the Improved Order of Red Men, where he gave back to the community while growing his circle of friends who became family over his decades of involvement in the organization. A born leader, Buck twice rose to the position of Great Sachem for the State of Ohio. He spent holidays serving food to those less fortunate and brought joy in his work with the Special Olympics. This was a man who could rebuild your engine, get you out of a ditch, hold your hand and remain calm in a tragedy, give tough love when needed, and grow the most delicious tomatoes you ever tasted. Above all else, he was a proud father and grandfather who loved time hunting, fishing, and hanging out by the fire with his grandkids, especially at his home in the country he called “paradise.”
Buck was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Florence (Ailing) Merz and his beloved pup Holly. He is survived by his partner Betty Blankenship, his daughter Aletta (Doug) Eakin and his son Chris Merz; grandchildren Ruth, Ralph IV, Russell, and Aidan; siblings Bonny (John) Rickerson, Bob Merz, Brenda Halterman, Kevin (Paula) Henderson, Binky (Mark) Bowden; many nieces, nephews, cousins, and loved ones.
We borrow from his strength as we learn to live without the man we all loved dearly. Our Buck simply cannot be memorialized with a limit of 10 people – a proper memorial service with military honors will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his memory to The James or the American Lung Association.
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