OBITUARY

Major Cyrus J. Merritt Jr., USAF Ret.

May 28, 1928March 24, 2019

Major (Retired) Cyrus J. Merritt, a veteran flyer whose career spanned props to jet aircraft, died on March 23rd, surrounded by his family at Gladeview Health Care Center in Old Saybrook, CT. He was 90. He was born May 28, 1928 in West Haven, CT, the son of Cyrus and Ida (Callahan) Merritt. He attended West Haven High School and Hopkins Academy. Merritt earned a Master's Degree and a Bachelor's Degree from UCONN, where he served as president of Gamma Iota Chapter Theta Chi. He was also chapter president in the Springfield TROA (The Retired Officers Association) and commander of the Worcester MOWW (Military Order of the World Wars). In addition, he graduated from the Armed Forces Intelligence School Air Force Command and Staff College. Upon retirement from active duty, he earned a teaching certificate from Assumption College.

Over three decades, the U.S. Air Force officer flew an impressive range of aircraft: in the mid-1950s, C47s and C54s in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon; in the 1960s KC97s and KC135s refueling aircraft in the Strategic Air Command; and in the 1970s, C130s and RF4Cs in the Tactical Air Command. Upon retirement, he piloted single-engine aircraft as a flight instructor, amassing over 5000 flying hours in his career.

Major Merritt earned a number of awards and decorations for his service. Chief among them were a Bronze Star, Combat Crew Medal and Meritorious Service Medal for missions accomplished in Vietnam. When any of his children later asked about details behind the commendations, he would simply say, "I was just doing my job." After a career of active duty, Major Merritt taught young men and women in Air Force Junior ROTC programs in several high schools in New England, offering his students the benefit of his passion and experience in the military. His work led to a designation as an "Outstanding Air Science Instructor" in 1978 by the Air Force Training Command.

While Major Merritt was on some level married to the military, the love of his live was his college sweetheart, Barbara Cannon Merritt, with whom he was married for 67 years. She, along with the following, survived him: a son Commander (Retired) Mark Merritt and his wife Robin of Isle Palms, SC, daughters Betsy Grim and her husband Kirk of Belchertown, MA, Dr. Pam Brisson of Naples, FL, Susan Trompke and husband John of Granby, MA, Tricia Pancione and husband Michael of Whately, MA; 14 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son, Timothy Merritt.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, March 30th at 11am in St. John Church, Main St., Old Saybrook. Please go directly to church. Meanwhile, Barbara and the rest of the family extend special thanks to the entire staff of Gladeview Health Care, who attended to Cy most professionally and tenderly. Remembrances may be made in his name to the Wounded Warrior (woundedwarriorproject.org) or to St. John School, Old Saybrook, CT (saintjohnschoolos.com/page/donation-overview.) To sign the online guest book visit www.swanfuneralhomeoldsaybrook.com.

Services

  • Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, March 30, 2019
REMEMBERING

Major Cyrus J. Merritt Jr., USAF Ret.

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Noreen Desroches

March 29, 2019

Sorry for your loss. I am sure he is flying in heaven with his family and friends! With sympathy to The Merrit Family. Joe, Noreen and family

Liz Varner

March 29, 2019

My sympathy for the loss of your father Tricia and Sue. It sounds like he had a long and honorable life .

Darlene Stetson

March 28, 2019

I would like to pass on my heartfelt condolences for the family of this wonderful, inspiring gentleman. What an honor it must have been to have such an extraordinary man in your lives. I only have the pleasure of meeting daughter, Sue, through a recent home renovation project. Please know I was deeply touched reading about this very special human being you got to call husband, dad, grampa, great-grampa, uncle, and friend. May God's peace and love surround and comfort all Cyrus's loved ones in the days and months to come as you all transition to a future life of treasured fond memories.

Sean Stuart

March 28, 2019

A great man, a great American and a great neighbor. They broke the mold when they made him. My condolences to the entire Merritt clan whom I have many fond memories of.
Semper Fidelis.
Sean Stuart
Dade City, Florida.

Pat Williams

March 28, 2019

I have many fond memories of Cy. The most profound, however, is how he was so sensitive and kind to my ill husband, Pete. Pete talked about and really appreciated the talks he had with Cy during his illness. To Barbara and your wonderful family, I am so sorry for your loss! Love, Pat Williams

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY