Kenneth Earl Merwin, Class of 1954, Millikin's Former Director of Development

Kenneth Earl Merwin, 91, of Lake Barrington, Illinois, passed away May 14, 2024 at home surrounded by his wife, Glenie, and family after a long battle with vascular dementia. He was born in Woodstock, Illinois, to Clifford and Helen (Boyce) Merwin on September 11, 1932. He grew up in Woodstock with his brothers, James and Jack, and sister, Marilynn.

He graduated from Woodstock High School (class of 1950), where he developed a great appreciation for learning and was destined to become a life-long learner and educator. As a teenager, Ken joined the Boy Scouts of America where he found a real sense of mission and purpose. He earned his Eagle Scout rank and was an active leader in his troop. He continued in scouting as an adult as a camp counsellor and leader at Camp Lowden Boy Scout Camp for seven years and in various district and counsel level leadership roles. He was awarded the Vigil Honor, the highest honor in the Order of the Arrow, given to members who have made exceptional contributions to the scouting community, and as an adult was the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award which recognized his distinguished service to young men. Ken lived the Scout Oath and Scout Laws throughout his life and his love of the outdoors nurtured by scouting shaped his hobbies of camping, hiking and mountain climbing.

He attended Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, graduating in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He taught History at Stephen Decatur High School from 1954 to 1962. In 1956 he met the love of his life, Glena Lee Roberds, as she was student teaching at the high school. They were married in 1957 in Lawrenceville, Illinois. Soon after came their five children, Jayne, Kendra, LeAnne, Kedrik and Aaron. In 1962, Ken returned to Millikin University as Director of Alumni Relations, and then shifted to what would be his career focus, fund raising, as the Director of Development. Over the next 35 years he worked for a number of educational and medical organizations in Development, including Alaska Methodist University, MacMurray College, Marshfield Medical Foundation, University of Minnesota Hospitals & Clinics, Methodist Hospital, Minnesota Society for the Blind and Interdenominational Theological Center.

While his career was important to him, Ken was most passionate about his family and youth development. He and Glenie served as youth group leaders within their churches as they made their moves across the U.S. They shared a love of singing and both sang for many years in their church choirs. He was also a proud and involved member of Rotary International. Ken was fascinated by all things fire department related – be it fire stations, fire trucks, fire fighters, EMTs or fire department paraphernalia – and he had a large collection of trucks and patches which he treasured. A large portion of this collection now resides in a special display within the Barrington Countryside Fire Station.

An annual highlight for Ken and Glenie and their many grandchildren was Camp Get-A-Way that they ran for twenty-two years, having all of the grandchildren join them for a week each year at their summer home in Green Lake, Wisconsin. It allowed them both to spend quality time with their grandchildren as well as help foster family connections. Ken was a devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Before a decline in clarity of thought near the end of his life, he had an amazing memory for people and events and loved telling entertaining stories and jokes.

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