Al Merkle, one of the 2015 Mountain Heritage Days grand marshals, recently celebrated his 90th birthday with a big bash at the Oakhurst Community Center. Family and friends from far and near honored him at the event, sharing some of their favorite memories, and listening to his recollections.
Merkle has led an interesting life. He was born in 1926, the oldest of 10. During his earlier years, he worked in a meat packing facility in Chicago, and served as a tail gunner in the Air Force during World War II.
In 1948, he married Helen, and a few years later moved to California, where he worked as a milkman in Burbank, delivering milk to movie stars like Barbara Hale and Bill Williams. In 1960, he and his family relocated to the Mountain Area, where he owned a gas station, cement redi-mix business, and built many homes in the area. He also helped build the Oakhurst Community Center, and was a member of the Lion’s Club, VFW, and the American Legion.