Merwin Gene Van Zee

July 5, 1945May 11, 2013
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How a man treats others can define his life. Merwin Van Zee’s life was defined by compassion, humor, strength and love.

Merwin was born on July 5, 1945. He was raised in Iowa surrounded by his parents, Martin and Gertrude, and his siblings, Dorothy, Don and Marlene. His strength of character and strong work ethic were built by growing up on farms surrounded not with physical wealth, but with everything important that money couldn’t buy.

After high school, Merwin attended the University of Iowa where he earned a degree in Pharmacology. He completed the ROTC program while in college. Merwin was promoted to Captain and served at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. After the Army, Merwin worked in pharmacy management in Harlan, Kentucky; Williamson, West Virginia; Port Arthur and Kingwood, Texas.

In 1983, Merwin found his final home in Denison, Texas where he worked at Texoma Medical Center for 28 years. After serving as the Director of Pharmacy for 12 years, he became the night shift pharmacist at the hospital. Many life-long friendships were formed during his tenure at TMC.

While at the University of Iowa, Merwin met his future wife of almost 45 years, Nancy. Together, they created a life filled with laughter, respect, shared adventures and most of all, love. Merwin and Nancy were each other’s best friends throughout their journey together.

When Merwin married Nancy, he received more than her hand, but an extended family who loved him as one of their own. Mother-in-law, Barbara, brother-in-law, Dick, sisters-in-law, Jennifer, Kathleen, Sheila and Katharine helped make his family complete.

They raised two daughters, Kristy and Sarah, who were very lucky enough to call Merwin, Dad. While sitting with a fishing pole in hand, Merwin taught his girls the importance of life – to do what is right, stand up for what you believe and treat others with a kindness and fairness.

Sarah’s husband, Matt, was Merwin’s son-in-law and friend. “The Farm at Lake Wannabe”, Merwin’s escape from the city, was where Matt helped build a cabin, cut down trees and forged a special bond. Merwin’s five grandchildren, Jack, Katy, Zachary, Ellie and Alex, filled his life with such love and laughter. He would beam with pride watching them. Many times, Merwin would join in whatever activity the children were doing. He was fiercely protective of his grandchildren, doing everything and anything he could to ensure they were happy, safe and successful.   Merwin’s life was tragically cut short on Saturday, May 11. He leaves a legacy of family and friends who will always remember his thoughtful deeds, his steadfastness and his laughter. Nancy was his heart, his daughters his soul and his grandchildren his pride. And through their memories, Merwin will always remain their best friend, their strength, their advisor and their love. Merwin was the calm in the storm and the laughter in the darkness. He will forever be missed.

As always, the family will follow Merwin’s direction. He will be cremated and later buried in Iowa. Family visitation will be at Bratcher Funeral Home on Thursday, May 16, from 6 – 8 p.m. A service to celebrate Merwin’s life will be at First Christian Church in Denison on Friday, May 17, at 2 p.m.

Memorials may be made in Merwin’s memory to his favorite charities: Grayson County Shelter, Helping Hands, Red Cross or Salvation Army.


  • Visitation Thursday, May 16, 2013
  • Memorial Service Friday, May 17, 2013

Merwin Gene Van Zee

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Cindi Wheeler

May 26, 2013

I was saddened to hear about Merwin. I remember him from younger days when my family would visit with Aunt Gertrude and Uncle Marty. I think I saw him last when I went with Dad to visit Uncle Marty at the hospital just before he passed. I always thought Merwin was so handsome!! I never knew he was a Pharmacist. It sounds as though he lived a full life, loved many and laughed a lot! Cherish your memories and may God bless you and your family. Denny and I will keep you all in our prayers. Denny and Cindi Wheeler (Cindi is a cousin to Merwin. Aunt Gertrude was a sister to my Dad - George Lourens)

janet rose

May 22, 2013

merwin was such a kind and funny man. we all miss him from TMC. my prayers go out to his family.

Margaret Hayot-Shankles

May 21, 2013

I'm sorry to hear of Merwin's death. He was our RCH Hospital pharmacist for years. He always had a smile and was kind and dedicated to his profession. May God give you strength in the oncoming days. Prayers of Peace.

Margaret/Noel Arnold

May 20, 2013

Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time of sadness.

Jackie Cherrier

May 17, 2013

Was greatly saddened to hear about Merwin, a loss of such a great man. I will always feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work on shifts that he worked at TMC so as to come to know this special person. As a nurse, he was always there for us to answer our questions. When stress was high and we were trying to figure out a new medicine or interpret an order etc. we knew he was so busy, but he would always make time to take our call ---as though he was putting our stress on his shoulders. He was so knowledgeable and professional---and so kind to allow us to talk over our concerns. After talking to him it was like you had more confidence to go forward with your giving of a new medicine or whatever. When the issues were of a lighter note---he would make you laugh as he would say "we're sure going to miss you"----then he would proceed to provide help or direction. When he retired, we all missed him so much but knew we could not deny this wonderful person who had given so much, the opportunity now to be with his family, work on that land and go fishing----he had so earned that and we could see the happiness in him as he counted the days to go to that new chapter. He left us then, and now, with feelings of gratitude that we got to know him and we thank you for sharing him with us.
There are countless numbers of us who share in your loss...and will pray for your strength at this difficult time. My deepest sympathy.

Jackie Cherrier, RN

May 17, 2013

My heartfelt sympathy and prayers are with you at this time. May God bless you Nancy and the family. Mary Lou King

Chad Green

May 17, 2013

Our loss is Heavens gain. It was truly a privilege to have known and worked with such a wonderful man. I could always count on Merwin any time an issue would arise. I will miss you friend. Now He truly is "Just livin' the dream". My condolences to family. May God bring you peace and comfort.

John Tyson

May 17, 2013

16 May 2013
Van Zee Family -------
Heartfelt condolences to the family for loss of Merwin. He was truly a pleasure to work with at TMC ---- and very well respected for his expertise and integrity.
Sincerely ---- J.P.Tyson M.D.

Kathy Dophied

May 16, 2013

I know your hearts are filled with sadness right now, but my prayer is that wonderful memories of this man, who so enthusiastically supported his daughters' endeavors, will give you comfort in the weeks ahead. What an incredible legacy of strength and integrity you were given. God bless you all.

Toni Rogers

May 16, 2013

May God Bless Mr.Merwin & his precious family and fill their hearts with peace & love