Merlin B. Tanner was born on October 28, 1926 at Grouse Creek, Utah, the son of Delbert and Ella Tanner. He was born in his Grandfather Betteridge’s home, which he now owns and lives in. Merlin was delivered by his great-grandmother, Mary Shaw Hadfield. He was the first of six children.
While still very young Merlin went haying and range riding with his father. During the haying season, Merlin drove the slip for the hay crew. When he was eight years old, Merlin worked all summer and earned $3.50. With this money he bought a saddle.
Merlin started school at the Grouse Creek School when he was five years old. There were eight children in his class. Merlin attended school in Grouse Creek until he graduated from the tenth grade. He then continued high school at Ogden High School in Ogden, Utah, living with his Grandfather and Grandmother Betteridge.
After Merlin graduated from high school, he was drafted into the United States Army. On January 11, 1945, he reported to Ft. Douglas, Utah, where he was immediately placed on guard duty. Not being acquainted with Army attire, he laced the leggings up the inside of his legs, so with every step he took, the leggings scraped each other. He was then shipped to Camp Roberts, California, where Merlin says they tried to kill him for seventeen weeks. After Basic training he reported to Ft. Meade, Maryland for thirty days. The war in Europe ended just as they were to be shipped out, so he was sent to Seattle, Washington. On July 4, 1945, he boarded a troop ship and seven days later landed in Oahu, Hawaii. While in Hawaii, Merlin contracted pneumonia and spent many days in the hospital. He was discharged from the Army at Marysville, California on August 26, 1946.
Merlin returned to Grouse Creek after his discharge from the Army and started farming and ranching with his grandfather, W.C. Betteridge. Later he bought the ranch from his grandfather and is still in the ranching business.
On October 25, 1950, Merlin was married to Kenna Rose Kunzler in the Logan LDS Temple by Elder Elray L. Christiansen for time and eternity. Merlin and Kenna have five children, Blaine K., Laraine, Jay, Brent and Terrie.
Merlin served in the Bishopric of the Grouse Creek Ward for fifteen years. He has served as second counselor, first counselor and Bishop. Merlin has served in the MIA for much of his adult life.
Along with his business of ranching, Merlin managed the Grouse Creek Co-op General Store for fifteen years and was also a Box Elder County Deputy Sheriff for five years. Merlin has served as a director in the East Grouse Creek Irrigation and Pipeline Companies, the Grouse Creek Livestock Association, and was a director of the Utah Cooperative Association. Merlin has served on many Bureau of Land Management committees and other agriculturally related committees.
Merlin and Kenna and two of their son’s, Blaine and Jay and their families, still live in Grouse Creek, Utah. Merlin and Kenna live in the house Merlin bought from his grandfather and the one he was born in. Merlin’s ancestors have lived in Grouse Creek for more than 100 years.
Merlin passed away on June 4, 2009. He is buried at the Grouse Creek Cemetery in Grouse Creek, Utah.
A father’s day tribute from his daughter Terri. My father, Merlin B. Tanner was born Oct. 28, 1926, in Grouse Creek, to Delbert E. and Mary Ella Tanner. He was the first of six children. Dad’s fondest memories as a child were following his father, caring for the cattle, feeding, branding, trailing to market, riding the open range, haying, and breaking horses to ride and work. Dad started driving the team on the hay slips before he was old enough to go to school. He would get so tired that his father would carry him home piggyback at the end of the day.
Dad’s first paying job was driving slip in the hay field for his grandfather. He was paid 50 cents per day. His first purchase with this income was to buy his first saddle from Arthur Paskett. It was a used saddle and it cost $4.50. Dad’s favorite pastime as a child was riding horses. He received his first horse when he was four or five years old. She was a yearling filly named Zipper. Dad fondly remembered the names of all the horses he had when he was a child. He said his favorite hideaway was the rock quarry.
Sports were also an important recreational activity when Dad was young. His favorite sports were horseback riding, basketball, baseball, ice skating, sleigh riding and riding the milk cow’s calves.
Dad was educated in Grouse Creek. He walked to school since he lived nearby. He had a variety of teachers, but the one that he remembered the most was Whitney Young. Mr. Young had the students memorize many items of literature. Dad could recite many of the things he memorized as a student throughout his life and taught his children the importance of an education through his example. To be able to attend high school, Dad moved from Grouse Creek to Ogden when he was 16 and lived with his grandfather and grandmother Betteridge. Since money was still scarce, he worked weekends at the 2nd Street Supply Depot.
Dad graduated from high school in 1944. Soon thereafter, he was drafted into the army. Dad entered the service on January 11, 1945. He went through boot camp in California, then was stationed at Ft. Meade, Maryland in preparation to join the forces in Germany. However, for some reason never explained to Dad, he was part of a small group of soldiers which was returned across the country and sent to Hawaii. There he went through jungle warfare training and was preparing to be shipped to Japan when he received word that a nuclear bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. Dad remained in Hawaii and the war ended without him ever entering combat. Dad was always a big proponent of the nuclear bomb, because he knew that if it had not been dropped when it was, he would have entered combat in Japan. Dad was honorably discharged August 26, 1946 after serving 1 year, 7 months, and 17 days in the military. Dad would get choked up every time he talked about how it felt to get off the ship in California after sailing from Hawaii. He was very proud to be an American.
After discharge from the military, Dad returned to Grouse Creek and started his ranching career. His first purchase was from his grandfather, W.C. Betteridge, and consisted of the home place and home, irrigation rights, pipeline share and BLM range rights. This purchase cost him $7,500 and he used two saddle horses as collateral for the loan to make the purchase.
It was about this same time he became interested in Kenna Rose Kunzler. He says he was attracted to her good looks and sweet personality. Mom was in her final year of college when Dad proposed to her on Valentine’s Day, 1950. They were married later that year in the Logan LDS temple.
Dad was a hard worker and labored long hard hours to be a successful rancher and farmer. He was a respected horseman and took great pride in his cattle herd and in raising quality crops.
In addition to ranching, Dad and Mom managed the Grouse Creek Co-op for about 15 years. He was proud of the relationships he established with wholesalers and for the service he was able to provide to the community by supplying all types of goods, everything from Levis to diesel to food. Dad took the business of managing the store and caring for his customers very seriously. One year, on the day before Thanksgiving when he had sold all the turkeys in stock, he had a customer come in to buy her family’s turkey. When she asked where the turkeys were, he replied he had only one left and that he had to go get it out of another freezer. He ran to our house, took our Thanksgiving turkey and gave it to his customer. That year our family had ham for Thanksgiving dinner.
Another thing Dad took seriously was his membership in the LDS church. Dad served in many callings in the church, including working in the MIA, working in scouting, teaching Sunday School and priesthood, he served as counselor to two bishops and served as Bishop of the Grouse Creek Ward for five years. Dad had a strong testimony of the gospel and lived his life in accordance with the gospel principles. Dad wrote that he was taught to pray by his mother and that his prayers had been answered many times.
Dad’s favorite sport was basketball. His favorite book was the Book of Mormon. Dad’s favorite dessert was ice Cream. His favorite hymn was “Love at Home”. His favorite vacation spots: Grouse Creek ball field and rodeo ground. Dad’s favorite food was beans. He would eat beans three meals a day if Mom would let him. He also loved a good steak and has said many times that the only time a person should eat chicken was if they were out of beef – and they should NEVER run out of beef!
Dad always enjoyed spending time with his family. Some of his most proud moments were spent at the county fairs watching his children and grandchildren show 4-H animals. Some of his most exciting experiences involved racing horses. Dad loved racing horses and even after a long day of riding would often challenge his riding companions to a race home.
Dad had the opportunity to travel some throughout his life, but his favorite place to be was in Grouse Creek with his family and friends. When asked where he would go if he could travel anywhere, he said simply, Grouse Creek, UT: There’s no place like home.
In his later years, Dad was involved in an accident with his horse which ultimately resulted in him having two back surgeries. That event ushered in the final phase of Dad’s life which was spent mostly sitting in his recliner. Dad watched every sporting event imaginable, episodes of old TV shows and game shows in addition to reading the newspaper each day. After having such an active life, having physical limitations was very challenging for him. He cussed at his dependence on oxygen and tried to share his insulin shots with every one of his grandchildren. Once when he was asked about his favorite way to spend a day of leisure, he replied that he would give anything to be able to be outside riding and working.
Dad was fortunate to be a part of what many now refer to as “The Greatest Generation”. Throughout his life many great technological and medical advances took place, be he was a simple, honest, humble man. He believed his word was his bond and was always forthright in his dealings. He was generous and considerate of others and had a soft spot in his heart for his grand kids.
Dad passed away peacefully Thursday, June 4, 2009, at age 82, in the home where he was born and lived , with his loving wife by his side. Dad was not afraid of dying. He said many time over his last years that there were many things worse than death, then would quote the last stanza of “Thanatopsis”, by William Cullen Bryant.
He wrote that three important things he would like to impress upon his family would be to
1) Love one another
2) Get together often
3) Have respect for each other.
He wrote his one piece of advice to others would be to leave this world a little better than you found it. Dad left the world a better place thanks to his example and loving legacy.