Merle was born in Audubon, the 2nd youngest of 5 children.  He turned 70 on April 3rd.  His siblings include Wayne Elsberry and Marlene Schwab and two sisters, Barb Kallesen and Mary Korver, in Council Bluffs.  The family farmed at that time.  In 1950, they moved into Audubon where his dad sold feed and fertilizer.  Merle graduated in 1964 and on April 11, 1965 he married Maggie Laursen, who was a classmate.  Maggie passed away on July 6, 2015.  Following their marriage, they moved to Ames where Merle was a Frito Lay Chips route salesman for 4 years.  They then moved to Ankeny where he was a supervisor for Frito Lay for 6 years.  Moving back to Audubon, he sold feed for a year.  They then moved to Albert City where he worked for a packing house and Albert City Co-Op.  They moved to Atlantic in 1981, where he worked for Atlantic Carriers as a dispatcher.  In 1985 he began selling insurance for Lutheran Brotherhood, which became Thrivent in 2001.  In 2003 he became an Independent Insurance and Security Sales Representative, which he continues to do.  He is a member of the Million Dollar Round Table Club.

          Merle and Maggie dated in high school.  One of their first dates, he remembers, as being at the swinging bridge west of Audubon.  Maggie was a homemaker when the kids were growing up.  In 1993 she came to work for Merle.  Their children include Marjorie, born in 1968, who lives in town and is a managing partner with Modern Woodmen.  She is married to Todd, who is a long haul trucker.  They have 2 children from Todd’s previous marriage; Emma, a freshman at UNO and Cole, a sophomore in high school.  Mike was born in 1972, lives in Atlantic and has Down’s Syndrome.  Mike attended Special Ed through high school and lived at home.  He has progressed well and is pretty independent, now living alone at the Walnut Hills apartments.  He goes to Cass Incorporated in the mornings and then to McDonalds, where he has worked for 23 years.  He receives 2 hours of supervision a week from Cass, Inc.  Mike is also a proud Lion’s Club member.  Marie was born in 1984 and lives in Elk Horn.  She is married to Jeff.  Marie is an RN and works as a floor nurse in the Manning Hospital.  Jeff works for Precision Components, located at the Valley.  They have 5 children; Ansleigh, a senior; William, a sophomore; Mia in 8th grade; Hannah in 4th grade and Josh in 3rd grade.

          Merle has been active at Zion, serving as Chairman and Elder and on the Finance, Education and Preschool committees.  He has also served as a lay delegate to our church’s District and Synod conventions.  He is an active Lion’s Club member, having served as President and is currently on the Board of Directors.  He puts in a lot of hours selling Christmas trees.  Merle has received the R.C. Bailey Distinguished Service Award as well as the Warren Coleman and Melvin Jones awards.  He and Maggie did a lot of traveling, including trips to the Bahamas, Alaska and Hawaii, where they cruised the 4 Islands.  For the last 11 years they have wintered in Alamo, Texas for 3 months.

          Among others, Pastor Sorensen, who came here about the same time as Merle and his family, had a big impact on Merle, directing him to the insurance industry.  In his spare time, Merle enjoys golfing and spending time with his family.  Wheel of Fortune and CSI are among his TV favorites.  We wish God’s continued blessings on Merle and his family.