EAST BERKSHIRE — Meryl J. Fowles, 73 of Meca View Farm, East Berkshire, and formerly of Sunnydell Farm, Southampton, Mass. passed away on Dec. 16 at the University of Vermont Medical Center after an eight-month battle with leukemia.
Meryl was born Aug. 4, 1943 to Elwyn and Louise (Searle) Fowles.
A graduate of the Easthampton High School class of 1961, Meryl graduated from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture in 1963 with a degree in Animal Husbandry. He also attended Cornell University, but soon decided his goal was hands-on agriculture. He returned to manage Sunnydell Farm with his father, raising a herd of registered, championship Guernseys. At the same time, he was hired to be a breeding service technician for Eastern Artificial Insemination (A.I.). For the next fifteen years, Meryl dedicated his life to dairy farming and dairy breeding in surrounding counties. This allowed him to work both jobs and win various Gold Star Breeder and DHIA dairy production records. In 1978 Meryl was chosen as the Outstanding Young Guernsey Farmer for New England, New York and Pennsylvania. In 1979, Sunnydell Farm’s Guernseys far exceeded the average milk production for the breed with a herd average of over 16,000 pounds of milk and placed in the “top 10” for herds that size in the United States.
In 1981 Meryl moved to New Hampshire as a herdsman on another Guernsey farm, but was soon given a large northern Vermont territory for Eastern A.I. and became a full-time breeding technician. He managed to significantly improve services to farmers, doubling the number of ‘first service breedings’ to 3,600 cows. He received numerous awards for his work, including recognition in 1985 and 1986 as being in the top five of all Eastern A.I. technicians to have increased the number of cows serviced. In 1988 Meryl was transferred to the Enosburg Falls area and bought a 25-acre farm to continue with his love of Guernseys. A few Jerseys also joined the herd, and even though this was a small farming operation, they managed to achieve many milk and butterfat production records. After several years of working with Eastern, Meryl became a breeding technician for Sire Power, and later on, Select Sires. He worked with farmers for a total of 42 years assisting them in choosing appropriate bloodlines and genetics for their herd improvement. All the while he was managing Meca View farm, which grew to some 65 head. With his young son helping with calf raising, feeding and fencing, the animals were a yearly feature in the Enosburg June Dairy Days parade and a regular presence at the Champlain Valley Exposition until 2002.
In earlier years Meryl enjoyed making homemade bread and pickles, hand-crank ice cream after a day in the hay fields and spending time in the garden—tending to his cherished rhubarb. He was a member of the Massachusetts 4-H Dairy Judging team, a delegate to the National 4-H Club Congress and served several years as a 4-H Dairy Club Leader in Hampshire County. He was also a member of the Southampton Grange and Farm Bureau in both states. Among Meryl’s favorite things were his love for old-time country music, RFD TV and any Louis l’Amour or William Johnstone western novel he could get his hands on. Meryl’s love of animals was not limited to cows: there was never a barn cat and kittens that didn’t get his full attention and placement in a good home. Meryl will be remembered for his humble and kind soul, his dry sense of humor and his willingness to go out of his way to help someone, or adjust to a farmer’s milking schedule when a cow needed to be bred.
Meryl is survived by his son Evan, his husband Kaleb, and grandson Eoin of Brighton, Mass. along with his special dog Toby. Additionally, Meryl leaves his sisters, Christine of Silver Spring, Md., Lorena Thayer of Cummington, Mass., and his brother Wayne of Montgomery, Mass. and their families.
Calling hours in Vermont will be Friday, Dec. 30 from 4-7 p.m. at the Spears Funeral Home, 96 Dickinson Ave. Enosburg Falls, Vt. 05450.
Calling hours in Massachusetts will be Jan. 2 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. immediately followed by a farewell ceremony at the Mitchell Funeral Home, 15 Park St. Easthampton, Mass. 01027. A private burial will be held later at the family’s convenience in the Center Cemetery, Southampton, Mass.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Franklin County Animal Rescue, 30 Sunset Meadow, St. Albans, Vt. 05478.