William B. Merrill, Sr.

November 14th, 2019

William B. Merrill, Sr., “Bill”, age 87, a long-time resident of Wilmington, passed away peacefully with his family at his side on November 11, 2019.

Bill was born on November 6,1932 in Boston, MA; he was the cherished son of Mary (Monahan) Geoffrion and John Merrill. Bill was raised in Winthrop, MA by his mother and grandparents whom he adored. Bill loved growing up by the ocean. He walked along the beach every day enjoying it’s natural beauty and many creatures: these were moments that molded his life-long passion for nature, animals and his love of the sea. Bill attended Winthrop Public Schools and was a graduate of Winthrop high school; following graduation, Bill went on to further his education while attending the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, UMass Amherst where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture.

In May of 1952, Bill enlisted in the United States Air Force to serve the country during the Korean War. Bill was a member of the 78th Supply Squadron and served overseas in Germany; Bill earned the National Defense Medal as well as the Good Conduct Medal. He was honorably discharged on May 15, 1956 from Hamilton Air Force Base in California and returned home to his family.

Bill Married his “sweetheart” Vilma Bedell in 1958 and the couple settled in her hometown of Wilmington. Bill and Vilma raised two wonderful children Jeannie and Billy; they were Bill’s pride and joy and there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for them. Bill attended countless school and sporting events to cheer on his children and when he became “Grampa” the tradition continued to the next generation; he was always their biggest fan. Bill’s unconditional love and devotion toward his family was evident in everything he did; Bill was especially involved in his grandchildren’s lives throughout the years where he was not only a mentor, but a best friend to them.

Bill worked hard to provide for his family; one of his first jobs was at Boston University where he would take home the animals and treat them as house pets; he always had a soft spot for those animals. For more than 20 years, Bill, worked for Digital Equipment Corporation. Bill had a great personality and work ethic, and brought much joy to those in the workplace.

Bill was very involved at the Wilmington Congregational Church for many years and was active in their Choir; he was soloist for the church since 1958. Bill’s reputation as a soloist quickly took off; he had a wonderful booming baritone voice and everyone wanted him to sing for their family occasions. Bill was not only at joyous occasions such as weddings but he also made an impression when he sang at countless funerals throughout the years; his voice was very calming. Bill continued to share his talent as a member of the Methuen Community Chorus as well as the Tewksbury Chorus for many years.

Bill will be fondly remembered for his endearing personality, his huge heart and his hearty laugh. Bill would go out of his way to make others feel welcomed and loved; he was a gentle giant and people were drawn to him. Bill always saw the best in others, he never had a bad word to say about anyone and would go out of his way to help others in need; Bill would literally give you the shirt off his back. Bill was always jolly and would often be heard singing a tune; he loved to make others happy. Bill was truly “one of a kind” and he will be greatly missed.

Bill was the beloved husband of the late Vilma (Bedell) Merrill, the devoted father of the late Vilma Jean Merrill and William B. Merrill, Jr. & his wife Lee Ann of Windham, NH, loving “Grampa” of Nicole Bottai & her husband Anthony, Elisabeth Jeffs & her husband Dan, Jessica Merrill, Jon Bassett, William Bassett, and great-grandchildren Lena, Abigail, and Kaleb. Bill was also very special to his love Serena Joyce and her family whom he adored. Bill is further survived by his extended and beloved Bedell family and many dear friends.

Family and friends will gather for Visiting hours at the Nichols Funeral home, 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington, on Wednesday, November 20th from 4:00-7:00 p.m. A celebration of Bill’s life will take place on Thursday , November 21st at 11:00 a.m in the Wilmington Congregational Church, 233 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington. Interment with Military Honors will follow in Wildwood Cemetary, Wilmington.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Bill’s memory may be made to the Millstone Wildlife Center, 16 Millstone Road, Windham, NH 03087


17 Entries in Guest Book for “William B. Merrill, Sr.”

  1. Frank West says:

    To the family of Bill Merrill- Karen and I are saddened by Bill’s passing. I always looked forward to seeing Bill as various functions at the Congressional Church such as the upcoming Christmas Fair. I remember Mrs Merrill both at Bedell Brothers Insurance and at the Church Fairs God bless Bill and his family at this time and always.

  2. Wayne Holm says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, hopefully he passed with no pain, you have gone through a lot of of sadness in the last few years. May you have a long stretch of no more unhappiness. My thoughts and prayers are with you ???? and the family ????

  3. Doug wiberg says:

    Many memories of Mr. Merrill, will always remember his voice at church and that I actually knew the man singing in the balcony, very special great man!

  4. Jerry and Carol Skilling says:

    Bill was such a dear man, always saying nice things to people. We loved his voice and without a microphone! “My cup runneth over with love.” was one of my favorites, and we first heard it in 1965 when we arrived in Wilmington to live with our family. The children and I used to see him at the Silver Lake every weekday back in 1975. Jerry says Bill was always joyful and pleasant. We are so sorry for those he left behind, but I’m sure God needed his voice!

  5. Mary Lou Sevigny says:

    Sorry for your loss. You had such a great bond with your Dad. I loved seeing pictures of you and him in Maine having so much fun. Remember death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves the memories no one can steal. Prayers for you and your family.

  6. Ana, Ken & BG says:

    Uncle Bill is my favorite uncle. He sang at my wedding. I’ve always looked forward to reunions and see him, next year will be a tough one. Uncle Bill, please give my hugs to Aunt Vimmie, we love you both! ????????

  7. The Nobile Family says:

    Bill and family,
    Hugs and prayers to all of you. Mr. Merrill, as I knew him, was a fixture at church and in the choir.He always had a kind word, a smile, and a chuckle for us kids. His voice was one I always recognized and looked forward to hearing. He always had a smile on his face up there in the choir loft.
    Melissa (Husen) and Marc Nobile, and Family

  8. Millie McDonald says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Bill as he was such a devoted friend to my friend Serena and her family……He sure made you feel very welcome when you got to spend any time with him and I sure know he will be missed very much by his family……I also go the pleasure to hear him sing when he came to my church with Serena and he sang so fantastic!!!

  9. Peter Mayotte says:

    I had the pleasure of singing next to Bill in The Tewksbury Interfaith Choir for many years. Please accept my condolences. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Bill used to say, “The first eighty-five years are the hardest.”. I hope he’s singing in Heaven now.

  10. Susan Wadsworth says:

    Dear Nicole,

    John and I send our most sincere condolences on the loss of your beloved grandfather. While it’s never easy to lose a loved one, he will live on in your hearts, thoughts and memories. God bless.

  11. Debra Carroll says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I have known your family since I was very young. Your parents and mine were so close. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. bob lebrun says:

    So sorry for your loss. Bill and I sang next to each other for many years in the Methuen Community Chorus. Many wonderful memories

  13. Heidi Hastings says:

    Bill & family – very tough to say good-bye to a parent. I remember enjoying your dad’s voice in the church choir when I attended the Wilmington Congregational with my mom. Reading his obituary, Bill, reminds me of you…you obviously have some of him in you. Love, Heidi & Gary

  14. The Gennarelli Family says:

    Dear Billy and Lee Ann and Nicole

    We are so sorry for the loss of your Father and grandfather

    We loved hearing stories of your Dad singing in the Choir and we feel like we knew him while you sang for us so many times during our visits together.

    Your family is in our prayers
    Your friends
    Nan and Dan and all our Children

  15. The Kashian Family says:

    We are very sorry of Bills passing, Sieglinde and I have knownBill for many years . He was a wonderful man. So sorry for the Merrill family.

  16. Dick Allard says:

    Fond memories of riding with Bill to and from Boston University in his old, big clunker automobile. I was a struggling student with a family and Bill was a happy, gracious BU employee who took me under his wing. We stopped at a dining car restaurant at BU for coffee each morning — $0.10 with cream or $.05 black. That’s when I learned to drink my coffee black.
    His solos in church were inspiring.

  17. Erika Hernandez says:

    Bill and Jeannie, I am truly sorry you had to say goodbye to your dad. I hope you inherited his absolute joy for life, as it was always on full display. Every single memory I have of him brings a smile. Many memories involve him singing in church. Other involve his masterful delivery of “dad” jokes, no matter how frequently he told them. He was special in the nicest sense.

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