Merritt J. Marks
April 19, 1927 - March 22, 2013
Clauser Funeral Home, Inc.
March 25, 2013
Marks, 85, of Richland, passed away peacefully on March 22, 2013 at Ephrata
Manor, Ephrata. He was a long-time and highly regarded business and community
leader in Lebanon County and will be remembered for his enthusiasm and
contagious energy who influenced everyone he met because of his positive
attitude. He exemplified the motto on his license plate, "B POSITV".
Born in Richland, PA on April 19, 1927, he was the son of the late Jonas
H. and Sadie Royer Marks of Richland. He was the husband of the late,
Nancy Riehl Marks, who died in 1997 and to whom he was married to for
47 years. He graduated from Richland High School, class of 1944, and is
an honorary alumnus of Harrisburg Area Community College, class of 1992-1993.
As a boy, he was an avid baseball fan and player, having played locally
on the Richland Chicks baseball team of the Lebanon Valley League. Following
high school, Merritt tried out with the Lancaster Red Roses professional
baseball team, which was part of the old Interstate League and affiliated
with the Philadelphia Athletics, and later optioned in 1945 to Martinsville,
VA top pitch for the Martinsville A's minor league baseball team in the
Carolina League, also an affiliate of the Philadelphia Athletics. It was
there that his dream ended when he injured his arm.
He packed his bags and headed back to his hometown, completed 18 months
of service (June 19, 1945 – January 21, 1947) in the US Army, stationed
in Italy. He then worked in the steel mills for five months (Bethlehem
Steel), until he was offered a position in the Richland National Bank.
Merritt began his banking career as a teller with the Richland National
Bank in February 1948 and retired in June 1992 as Senior Vice President
& Area Executive Officer, Lebanon County Region, Hamilton Bank (a
After his retirement, he continued on a part-time basis as a Community
Representative for the bank. He was a past President of both the American
Institute of Banking, Lebanon County Chapter and Lebanon County Bankers
Association. In 1991, he won the prestigious Corey Award for Community
Service from CoreStates Bank.
Merritt was a life-time member of Grace United Church of Christ, Richland,
where he served as church council member, financial secretary, treasurer,
on the capital funds campaign committee, and sang in the senior choir.
In 2005, he was honored by the church for his many years of service. He
served his home town of Richland as past president (1957) and treasurer
of the Neptune Fire Company and Chairman of the Neptune Fire Company Carnivals.
He also served as Treasurer of the Richland Athletic Association when
it was first organized 1946, as Vice President & Secretary, Richland
Lions Club (joined 1948), and Treasurer, member of the Board of Directors,
and Chair of the Capital Fund Campaign for the Richland Community Library.
He also served as treasurer, tax collector, and zoning board member for
the Borough of Richland. He was Chairman of the ELCO School Authority
at the time of the dedication of the new Eastern Lebanon County High (ELCO)
School in November 1962. He was a Committee Member on the Lebanon Campus
Educational Trust Advisory Council of Harrisburg Area Community College
He was president of Community of Lebanon Association (CLA) for seven years
In his first year as president, CLAQ membership increased by 72 percent.
He often closed his president's message in CLA Newsletters with "in
the words of the ancient Dutch philosopher from Richland…You're
One of his fondest memories as CLA president was when CLA received the
1989 Outstanding Achievement Award for volunteerism, as the top volunteer
downtown organization in Pennsylvania (given by the Pennsylvania Downtown
Center, the only statewide nonprofit dedicated solely to the revitalization
of the commonwealth's core communities, and the Preservation Fund of Pennsylvania
Inc., and the Bureau of Historic Preservation.
The 1993 CLA Annual Dinner program included a musical introduction of
president Marks, written by Bob Phillips and sung by Cliff Eshbach, Lee
Moyer and Bob Phillips to the tune of "High Hopes".
The 1994 CLA Board of Directors made a special presentation to the retiring
Marks for his contributions to the CLA, thanking him for seven years he
led the activities and directed the organization as president. At the
1994 CLA Annual Banquet, a video presentation in tribute to Marks was
of the high points of the evening. After stepping down as CLA president,
he continued to serve as treasurer. During his CLA tenure, he was also
a member of the CLKA Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and Public
He served as treasurer of Lebanon 2000, a nonprofit organization formed
by CLA to manage the Lebanon's downtown revitalization strategy during
In 1989, he served as CLA's first Business Person of the Year and received
the organization's Lifetime Service Award at a special tribute during
the CLA Annual Dinner in 2002 and was pinned with 'merit' badges for the
many roles he played within the community, his churchy, and his family.
He was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Lebanon Valley General
Hospital. He was the recipient of the Rotary Club of Lebanon's Paul Harris
Fellowship Award for outstanding community service and the J. Robert Ladd
Civic Achievement Award for outstanding community service from the Lebanon
Sertoma Club in 1994.
He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Lebanon Valley
Economic Development Corporation and as President (1970), Vice President,
Chairman of the Board of Directors (1986-87) and past Chairman and Treasurer
(1967) for the Lebanon County Industrial Development Corporation. He served
as the vice president and 1991 Campaign Chairman and 1992 Campaign Chairman
for the United Way of Lebanon County and then as its President in 1993.
He was also a director and Executive Board Member of the Lancaster –
Lebanon Boys Scouts Council. He is amber of the Steitz Club of Lebanon.
He will be lovingly remembered by his children: Meretta J. Marks, Ephrata,
PA and Keith M. Marks, husband of Debra A. Marks, Lititz, PA, granddaughters:
Melissa J. Karli, Ephrata, PA, Michelle M. Marks, Philadelphia, PA, and
Madelyn J. Marks, Ephrata, PA.
He was preceded in death by a son, Kevin M. Marks, and a sister, Florence
Memorial service will be held on Monday, April 1, 2013 in the Grace United
Church of Christ, 22 Church Street, Richland, PA, with a visitation beginning
on Monday at 10:00 AM.
Interment will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the Richland
Community Library, P.O. Box 89, Richland, PA 17087 or Grace UCC, P.O.
Box 694, Richland, PA 17087.