Merrill Goodwyn, Jr. was born June 15, 1940, in Nashville, Tennessee to Howard Merrill Goodwyn and Alene Thurman Goodwyn, and passed away March 23, 2022 in Ruston, Louisiana. He grew up in Dallas, Texas, then moved to Ruston in 1956. Merrill graduated from Ruston High School, then went to Georgia Tech and Louisiana Tech where he earned his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. While at Tech, Merrill joined the Airforce ROTC and upon graduation was on active duty designing facilities that tested jet engines. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain.
Merrill’s civilian career started in airport planning, working for the State of Texas and the State of New Mexico, then transitioned to the private sector where he participated in designing airports in locations in the United States and many countries around the world. He was particularly fond of a project in Thailand where over a 2-year period he lived for 9 months, working with the Royal family building the most modern and largest airport in the region.
Merrill created lifelong friends while in high school in Ruston and those friendships lasted his whole life. In 1958 they took a famous road trip across the great mountains and national parks of the western US and those stories lived on in supper clubs and gatherings whenever they got together. All of the children in this group of friends know each other and grew up together. He passed these wonderful friendships and memories on to his children and it is a special part of their lives to know these families.
Merrill started hiking as a youth at the Cheley camp in Estes Park Colorado where he still holds the distinction of having hiked more miles in one summer than any other camper to this day. His passion for hiking was a great source of joy in his life and he led hikes for the Sierra club, sometimes hiking over a 1000 miles a year. He also loved bicycling in many locations in California, Illinois, and Minnesota. Merrill’s other great passions were jogging and sailing and he was an accomplished sailor at the Austin yacht club on Lake Travis in Texas. Merrill skippered many championship crews and won many trophies, series and races while sailing at the AYC. Merrill passed his love of hiking and sailing onto his children who have loved the water and mountains throughout their lives.
Merrill lived all over the western US including: Austin, Santa Fe, the Bay area, Seattle, Chicago, Las Angeles and Ft. Worth. When he retired, he moved back to Ruston, Louisiana, reconnecting with old friends and forging new ones. He enjoyed participating in coffee groups where the members attempted to solve the problems of the world (and if properly implemented their solutions could still work).
Merrill was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Mary Ann Goodwyn. Left to cherish his memory are his children, David Goodwyn and wife Jessica, Sharon Goodwyn King, Mary Minchew Hooper (first wife and mother of his children), his lifelong friend and the love of his life Esther Lu Lazarus, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild.
A celebration of Merrill’s life will be on May 22 at the Norton building on 207 W. Mississippi Ave in Ruston at 1:00 :PM. Those interested in attending please rsvp via the link on this website. In lieu of flowers the family requests a gift in Merrill’s honor to “A Thousand Summers,” a foundation that sponsors youth to attend the Cheley camp, so formative to Merrill as a youth. www.athousandsummers.org/support/donate.
Merrill’s intellect, sharp wit and famous sense of humor will be missed by all that knew him.
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