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Bellaire Resident Merryman to Celebrate 100th Birthday

Ralph Merryman, who turns 100 on Feb. 14, is shown with family members at this past Christmas.

Ralph Merryman, a lifelong resident of Bellaire, will celebrate his 100th birthday on Friday, Feb. 14.

He was born to Forest and Mildred Merryman in 1920, and was subsequently joined by two siblings, Harold and Loretta.

Ralph graduated from Bellaire High School in 1938 and in four years, married the love of his life, Violet Wiggins, in January of 1942. Violet traveled to be with Ralph during boot camp and glider training with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Ralph would not be seen stateside again until 1945.

Ralph’s deployment took him into battle in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He then traveled to England to prepare for the D-Day invasion. On June 7, a C-47 pulled an 82nd glider across the Channel and deposited Ralph into the fray just outside of Sainte-Mere-Eglis, France.

He later rode a glider into Holland where he was shot through his arm at the Battle of the Bulge. As a result of his injury, Ralph came home on the Queen Elizabeth, bringing with him two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

Reunited, Ralph and Violet built a house in West Bellaire where they raised two children, Arlene and Brett. He found work at the R.E. Burger power plant, retiring from there in 1986.

An avid runner, he continued to run the Elby’s half marathon until the age of 72. He enjoyed golf, cars and coaching his son’s Little League baseball team. Later in life, Ralph and Violet managed the “Keenagers,” a vaudeville-style show that traveled the Ohio Valley presenting performances to senior citizens in the valley and also appearing at the Ohio State Fair.

Ralph lost Violet after 72 years of marriage. He was 94, she was 90. He drove every day to be at her side at the care center until she passed. He enjoys visits from his children, five grandchildren and four great- granddaughters.

Friends, relatives and co-workers will pay tribute to Ralph on Feb. 16 at the VFW in Bellaire.

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