May 20, 1926 – July 15, 2016
Edwin R. Merriman, formerly of East Aurora, a soil and water conservation engineer, died Friday in Ewing Continuing Care Center, Canandaigua, after a lengthy illness. He was 90.
Born in Whitehall, near Glens Falls, he was orphaned as a child, and lived in foster care and orphanages until he was adopted by the Merriman family in New Jersey at the age of 12.
After he developed a love for country life during a summer visit at East Hill Farm in Middlesex, which was owned by his adopted mother’s cousin in the Finger Lakes, he was allowed to continue living and working at the farm. He graduated from Middlesex Valley School in 1944 and earned a degree in agriculture from Cornell University.
Mr. Merriman purchased East Hill Farm in 1950 and acquired several nearby properties, eventually farming more than 1,000 acres. He raised sheep, chickens, grapes and various cash crops. His grapes were sold primarily to the Widmer and Taylor wineries. He sold the farm in 1967 to the Rochester Folk Art Guild, which still owns it.
As a farmer, he served two terms as president of the New York State Association of Conservation Districts. In 1968, he became the district manager for the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District in East Aurora, dealing with land use issues and soil and water conservation projects.
In 1978, he founded Merriman Conservation Consultants Inc., based in West Seneca and East Aurora, where he was an adviser on public and private soil and water conservation projects. In retirement, he was chairman of the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation Advisory Board for several years.
He was a member of Baker Memorial Methodist Church in East Aurora. He also was a member of the Kiwanis Club and served with the Chaffee-Sardinia Volunteer Fire Company.
He was lifelong collector of Native American artifacts, many of which he found on his farm or while walking along watershed sites. He enjoyed showing his collection and talking about the life of the Iroquois before community groups and his grandchildren’s elementary school classes.
His first wife of 48 years, the former Janet Moody, died in 1999. He married the former Dorothy “Dottie” Meath in 2000.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Norman; a daughter, Melanie Hulton; seven grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
A celebration of his life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in Middlesex United Methodist Church, 1162 Route 245, Middlesex.