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MERVIN ERNEST FARMER After a year and half battle with cancer, on the morning of Tuesday, July 24, 2012, Mervin Ernest Farmer passed away at the age of 74. He will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 50 years, Lou, their seven children and 18 grandchildren: Brenda (Len Rust and daughters Lindsay and Beth), Blair (Tracy and son Jonathon), Lana (Jeff Meier and children Mollie, Branden, Chanele, Annaliese and Matthieu), Derwin (daughter Brittani), Tricia (Damon Poole and sons Tristan and Colton), Paula (Paul Munroe and children Brett, Saige and Danielle), and Trevor (Kelly and daughters Brooke, Kate, Reese and McKenna). He is also survived by his sister Myrna (Russ Oliver), sister-in-law Joey (the late Don Sargent) and brother-in-law Russ Edwards (Joanie). Mervin was predeceased by his parents Ernest and Ada Farmer. Merv was born July 3, 1938 in Portage la Prairie and moved to the Balmoral area a year later. He was a member of the Balmoral 4-H club and the Balmoral and Stonewall United Churches as well as a Sunday school teacher. Music was important to Merv and he studied piano and accordion. He continued playing the piano and organ throughout his life which his family enjoyed. Merv helped on the farm where life progressed from plowing fields with horses and the annual threshing gang harvest to their first gas powered tractor in 1949 and harvesting the crops with a combine. Merv also helped to care for the pigs and cows. When he was 17 years old he left Balmoral School and the family farm and moved to Stonewall. Merv married Luella Edwards in 1961. They bought 40 acres north of Stonewall where they raised their family and operated a small game farm. Merv had a love of birds and animals which was apparent throughout his life raising everything from elk, llamas, pheasants, goats, Japanese Sika deer to snowy owls, rabbits and raccoons. If anyone found a wounded bird or animal it made its home at the Farmers. Merv was a devoted husband, a cherished father, a loving grandfather. He raised his family in the community he loved and spent his life making a difference in. He was so proud of all of us. We will treasure the family vacations, the life lessons and gatherings that were so important to him. We will always remember him at the background of family gatherings and the forefront of our minds with his special grin and twinkle in his eye. He will always hold a special spot in our hearts. Dad provided his family with numerous opportunities to learn not only about hard work, respect and integrity but gave all of us his entrepreneurial spirit. He was a leader, someone to whom people always turned for advice or when things needed to get done. His first job which lasted a mere three hours was changing tires and oil at a local garage in Balmoral. Merv knew quickly that he didn't want to do that full time and when he saw the ad in the paper looking for full time employment at the Stonewall Argus print shop he applied immediately and found his niche in life. Merv worked for Bill and Joe Saundry from August 1955 to December 1966 before purchasing the business. In 1967 Merv founded Interlake Publishing which operated the Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times and the print shop. In 1973 he founded the Interlake Spectator and 1985 the Selkirk Journal. Merv built the existing Interlake Publishing office at the south end of Main Street in 1992. Merv served as a director and president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association and as a director of the Canadian Community Newspaper Association. Merv received a MCNA life membership April 16, 1994 and a CCNA honorary life membership July 23, 1998 for his contributions to the improvement of the profession of community newspaper publishing in Canada. On June 12, 1992 Merv sold the business to Quebecor and retired December 31, 1999. Over his lifetime Merv involved himself in virtually every part of the community and region with recreation, business, volunteer work and family. Merv coached Little League Baseball in Stonewall for 11 years, winning 10 league championships and three provincial titles; Founded the Highway 6 and 7 Baseball and Hockey Leagues with Mike Makowski; Served on the executive of the Manitoba Amateur Hockey with Abbie Coo; Officiated in the M.A.H.A. for 12 years; Served as president of Stonewall Minor Hockey; Coached and managed several of his sons' minor hockey teams; Managed the Stonewall Jets Intermediate hockey team; Managed the Stonewall Jr. B team with Alf Slatcher; Served as president of the Western Interlake Intermediate hockey league. Besides hockey and baseball Merv was always supportive of his daughters and the Stonewall Figure Skating Club. It was only fitting that Merv was instrumental in installing the first artificial ice surface in Stonewall with Mel Stewart, Alf Slatcher and Jaunty Lowe. Merv served 25 plus years as a volunteer and deputy-chief on the Stonewall-Rockwood Fire Department; Eight years on the Stonewall and District Ambulance; Councilor for the Town of Stonewall; Chairman of the Police and Fire committee. Merv played a large part in the hiring of the R.C.M.P. to police Stonewall during this time. He was a member and served as president of the Stonewall and District Chamber; Wrote and published Turning a Century for the Town of Stonewall in 1975 commemorating its 100 year history; Compiled and published Golden Memories song book designed in large print especially for senior citizens. During his retirement Merv pioneered the elk industry in Manitoba starting up one of the first elk farms in the province. He was a founding member of the Manitoba Elk Growers Association and served on the board for many years. He always enjoyed coffee and lunch at the Balmoral Rec Centre with friends after his daily chores at the farm. His family, along with so many people he touched, mourns the passing of a man who was competitive, generous, and community-minded, had a good sense of humour and moral values. We will continue to remember Merv when Manitoba Merv' gives his prediction of an early or late spring. At Merv's request there will be no funeral service. Flowers are gratefully declined and those wishing to honour Merv's memory may do so by donating to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation (Colon Cancer), Room 1160 - 675 McDermot Ave., Winnipeg, MB R3E 0V9 or a charity of your choice. "You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough." - Joe E. Lewis
As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on July 28, 2012
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