Merle Lee Elling Durby
Merle Durby, 90, Leland, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. Visitation for Merle will be held from 4–6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 29, at Schott Funeral Homes–Mittelstadt Chapel, Lake Mills, and will continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Monday. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Aug. 30, at West Prairie Lutheran Church 4, Leland, with Rev. Anthony Scalisi officiating. Inurnment will follow in West Prairie Lutheran Cemetery, with military honors conducted by the Leland VFW Post #6161. Memorials may be directed to the West Prairie Cemetery Fund or Leland VFW Post # 6161.
Merle Lee Elling Durby was born in rural Buffalo Center, March 15, 1931, the son of Palmer and Nettie (Rognehaugh) Durby. He was one of five children, and his siblings included: Dorothy, John, Ruby, and Marlo.
Merle was baptized at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Buffalo Center and confirmed May 27, 1945, at West Prairie Lutheran Church, rural Leland. He continued his membership at West Prairie for the remainder of his life, being active in many areas, including serving on the cemetery board and as treasurer of the board for many years.
He attended school in Forest City, Newton #5 Burnup Country School, Leland, and Thompson. He then worked on the family farm until enlisting in the U.S. Army, serving as a radio communications specialist in Korea between 1953 and 1954.
Merle returned to the family farm and married Blanche Stenersen, Dec. 19, 1954. They raised five children and celebrated 63 years of marriage. He began his career in farming in 1954 and received the Outstanding Young Farmer Award in 1961. He retired in 2000 after farming for 46 years.
Merle was a member of the Kiester Legion and Leland VFW. He was proud of his service to his country and enjoyed sharing his pictures from Korea with family and veteran military groups. In his later years, Merle told his family the things he valued most in life were family and farming.
Merle and Blanche enjoyed traveling—California, Arizona, and Laughlin, Nevada were favorite destinations. For many years, summers found them at their Beaver Lake cabin in rural Ellendale, Minn., entertaining family and friends. Anyone who met Merle became his friend. Reading and learning about family ancestry was important to Merle and he encouraged his family to do the same.
Merle is survived by five of his six children: Maureen (John) Sleper, Clarion; Linda (Michael) Sharp, Mitchellville; Terry (Lisa), Leland; Darla Zrostlik, Long Grove; and Shari (Chris) Berends, Roland; eight grandchildren: Jennifer (Jacob) Etheredge, Christopher Zrostlik, Mallory Christopher, Jonathan Zrostlik, Joran (Jordan) Colby, Sydney (Josh) Holmes, Ty Durby, and Grant Berends; seven great-grandchildren: John, Lena, Lily, Anna Etheredge, August and Ella Christopher, and Leo Colby; his sister, Ruby Farland; cousins, nieces, nephews, and many special friends.
Greeting Merle in heaven are his wife, Blanche; his infant daughter, Nancy Pauline in February 1957; his parents; two brothers; and one sister.