ST. ALBANS — Merrill C. Hungerford, 89, a career automobile dealer who served on many community and civic boards, died Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at FAHC in Burlington of congestive heart failure surrounded by his family. Merrill was born in Haverhill, Mass. on April 8, 1924, and was the son of the late Homer William and Helen Stilphen Hungerford. Merrill was predeceased by his wife of 47 years, Madeleine (Mimi) on Dec. 27, 2000.
Merrill graduated from Bellows Free Academy in 1943, then joined the Army Air Force and served until 1946. He attended the University of Vermont before returning to St. Albans to join the family business, Homer W. Hungerford and Sons. Merrill was active in the automobile business for over 45 years through his affiliation with Ford Motor Company and Hungerford Volkswagen.
During his life he was a member of the Vermont Auto Trade Association and served on the board of New England Ford Dealers Advertising Fund and the Volkswagen Dealer Council for many years. In May of 1948 Merrill was honorably selected by Ford Motor Company to be the Vermont representative and product narrator in New York City when Ford first introduced their post-war models to the public.
Merrill was a member of many fraternal and local organizations including the Franklin Lodge #4 F and Am, the York Rite Bodies, the Kachina Billikin Klub, the Scottish Rite Valley of Burlington and was a life member of the American Legion Green Mountain Post No.1. He served on the board of directors for Franklin Lamoille Bank and the Royal Order of Jesters of Montpelier Court 151, in which he was elected President in 1985. Merrill was also a member of the First Congregational Church of St. Albans, where he served on the Board of Deacons, but more actively on the Board of Trustees as its Chairman for many years.
His true passion was Mount Sinai No. 3 Shriners in which he served as Potentate in 1981. While Potentate, Merrill was asked to join the board of the Montreal Shriners Hospital for Children where he served until 1996 when he was elected to be an Emeritis member. He was one of the founding members of the Mount Sinai Motor Corps and is well known for his idea to create a go-cart ramp over a limousine to be used in Shrine parades. Merrill was a life member of the Past Potentates Association and a member of the Northeastern Vermont Shrine Club. He worked to ensure that many children in the local area had a better life by receiving orthopedic services through the Shrine Hospitals.
Throughout his retirement Merrill remained active in volunteer activities and was an avid fan of many sporting events in St. Albans. He thoroughly enjoyed following hockey, softball, football and lacrosse. St. Alban’s hockey was especially important to him as he played on early BFA teams prior to World War II and was integral in the revival of the modern day hockey program with his brother, Dick and other local businessmen. In more recent years Merrill looked forward to maple sugaring season and was best known for assisting with “public relations and quality control” at French Hill Farms with his nephew, Tom Hungerford and good friends.
Survivors include three children and their spouses, John H. (Jack) and Joan Hungerford of St. Albans, William M. (Bill) and Linda Hungerford of St. Albans, and Anne H. and Edward Stabler of Manchester by the Sea, Mass. He also leaves eight grandchildren- Jack’s boys: Seth, his two children Isaac and Julia and his fiancé, Shannon, Homer and his wife, Christine, and their daughter, Lillian, Derek Hungerford and his close friend, Katie, and Josh. Anne’s children: Merrill and Alexandra (Ali) Stabler, and Bill’s children: Owen and Madeleine (Maddie) Hungerford. Merrill is also survived by extended family that include sister-in-law, Ruth Hungerford, brother-in-law, George Costes, paternal and maternal cousins, Mrs. George Singiser, Troy, N.Y., Mr. Robert Hillers, Fayetteville, N.Y., and Mr. John Hillers, Scotia, N.Y., as well as many special nephews and nieces and their respective families and countless wonderful friends.
Merrill was predeceased by his sister, Mary Hungerford Fyles Costes and brother, Richard Hungerford.
Merrill’s family would like to extend their gratitude to the Fletcher Allen Vascular Surgery Team, the Surgical ICU and Shepardson 3 North nurses and staff; Dr. Terri Nielsen of St. Albans, Franklin County Home Health and the Homestead for all the care and support.
Merrill loved life and he will be remembered for his big heart, generosity and sense of humor.
Visitation will be on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Heald Funeral Home, 87 South Main Street, St. Albans.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 11 a.m. in the First Congregational Church, 27 Church Street.
Friends are requested to consider memorial gifts to the Shrine Hospital for Children Care, P.O. Box 742, Montpelier, VT 05601-0742 or Franklin County Home Health, 3 Home Health Circle, St. Albans, VT 05478. Please visit www.healdfuneralhome.com to leave a memory or a message for the Hungerford family.