Merle Wayne Brown, Age 85 of Bear Lake died Sunday evening November 29, 2020 at The Maples-Benzie County Medical Care Facility in Frankfort.
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He was born on July 26, 1935 in Frederic, WI the son of the late Robert Merle and Dorothy Agnes (Daniels) Brown. He was a graduate of Siren High School Class of 1953. Despite his hearing disability Merle was the quarterback for Siren High School and his senior year took the team to State. He also was homecoming king and student council president. He received many band awards and played taps for the local Military Funerals. He married Bette Lou Kern, his high school sweetheart on December 3, 1955 in Pine City, MN. He continued on to the University of Wisconsin in Superior and earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
Merle started his career working for Jeno's Pizza and Pie Filling in Duluth, MN as a food technician where he developed the cherry pie filling recipe that is now owned by Wilderness and can be found on the store shelves still today. The family moved to Bear Lake, MI in 1968 where Merle worked for Sawyer Fruit and Vegetable Co supervising the start-up of the instant quick freeze operation. After purchasing a small fruit farm, he made the decision to become a full-time fruit farmer and bought the Briske Farm in 1972 and continued farming until he passed.
He was ahead of his time in fruit farming with all his young fruit tree plantings being spaced closer together than what was planted at the time in the middle 70s. He also was one of the first in turning to organic production, having 130 acres of apples and fifty acres of tart cherries in the mid 1990’s
Survivors include his brother; Jerry (Joan) Brown of Aurora, CO, five children; Robert (Lauri) Brown of Onekama, Lynn (Rick) Jensen, Peter (Mary) Brown & Joey (Belen) Brown all of Bear Lake and Loree Brown (Mark) of Licking, MO, his 11 grandchildren; Ted (Kaylie) Brown, Marianne (Josh) Berryhill, Emily Torongo, Josh Ware, Jason (Bridget) Ware, Jake (Kristin) Ware, Jenna Ware, Justin & Cody Brown, and Andre & Liliana Brown, 16 Great Grandchildren, Cheyenne (who made the best pancakes he ever had), Trace, Jacob, Will, Nicole, Macy, Celia, Carolynn, Lincoln, Natalie, Cassidy, Madalyn, Levi, Audrey, Autumn and Logan.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years Bette Lou Brown; parents; two brothers Robert Brown & Daniel & Elsie Brown sister-in-law.
Memorial Services for Merle Wayne Brown will be held Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 1:00 PM at the Tabernacle Church 77 Hancock Street in Manistee with Pastor Seth Bush officiating.
We are asking that you please wear a mask for the entire service and that you respect social distancing.
Please visit Merle's personal page of memories at www.oakgrovefh.com to share a memory or photo. Arrangements by the Oak Grove Funeral Home & Cremation Center in Manistee.