Carson Merkley

1931 ~ 2022 (age 91)


Carson Patrick Merkley, 91, of Bonanza, Oregon, stepped into heaven on the Lord's Day-Sunday, June 26, 2022. Funeral Mass will be held Saturday, July 2, 2022, in St. Pius X Catholic Church, beginning with a Rosary at 10:30 am. A reception will then be held immediately after the mass, in the parish hall of the church, with burial to follow at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

Carson was born on St. Patrick's Day, 1931, in Sacramento, California. He was the eldest of three children born to Edgar (Ned) Alan Merkley and Margaret Mary (Grady) Merkley. Carson grew up with his brother Michael and sister Molly, in in the Sacramento, Dixon, and San Rafael areas of California. He played football for Dixon High School at the center and linebacker positions in his junior and senior years, and the team was undefeated. After high school, he was voted into the Dixon High School Class of 1947 Hall of Fame.

During his first year of college, the Korean War "was heating up, so I joined the Navy." While not a fan of the 10-week Navy boot camp in San Diego, Carson was voted Honor Man of the 80 men in his company. Carson was assigned to a mine sweeper ship, but by this time he was 6'1" and 208 lbs of "twisting blue" steel. He soon found himself playing football on Treasure Island against future pro football players. Carson also played Fort Ord, "the big army base" in California at that time. During pre-season, they played the San Francisco 49ers. "Fort Ord was loaded. They beat us by one touchdown. This was the highlight of my life--I played with guys I had heard on the radio, playing just a year or two before." Carson played offensive center--"I could always block and tackle," and played right across from Jerry Helwig.

During his stint at Treasure Island, "I think I had three saints praying for me as Korea was heating up. But lo and behold, I became ship's company at Treasure Island, and spent approximately 20 months there." He made many friends while stationed there. After that, it was back to Long Beach, to marine Warfare School, and eventually the U.S.S. Implicit A/1255--the newest thing in mine-sweeping. "Our motto was 'Where the fleet's going, we've been there'" The three saints Carson referred to above were his mother, his maternal aunt Loretta, and his maternal grandmother, Rosebud. "I loved my stint in the U.S. Navy!"

After Carson's Naval discharge, he attended U.C. Davis to study Animal Husbandry while working part time at his grandfather's dairy in San Rafael. "No more football; I was 23 years old, same as the line coach, and felt like an old man." Since childhood, Carson always dreamed of becoming a rancher. Things really changed when he met the love of his life, Elizabeth (Peeksey) Mangan, at a dance in Sacramento. They were married on May 10, 1958, at St. Francis Catholic Church in Sacramento. Carson got a job as a livestock inspector, working on all kinds of domestic cattle diseases, which he found interesting, but the job didn't pay very well, so he worked part-time in a gas station and also worked in a juvenile detention center.

In November 1963, Carson and Pixie purchased the "old Monte Cline place" right on Hiway 140, about 1.5 miles west of Bly, Oregon. Carson and Pixie raised six children on that place: Sharon, Sheila, Matthew, Vincent, Michael, and Elizabeth (Lizzie). They began ranching--haying, cattle, horse riding, fence building, irrigation--and various duties of ranch life on that Bly Valley place. Lots of work and good times were had at this ranch. "I really had a lot of fun in Bly; there were some characters and good friends," Carson noted.

During times of low cattle prices, Carson help make ends meet by taking a job at the Weyerhaeuser lumber mill in Bly, pulling green chain (freshly cut lumber) off conveyors and into stacks. After the financial hard times passed, Carson returned to ranching full time.

After 18 years on the first Bly ranch of 1,790 acres, the opportunity came for Carson and Pixie to purchase old Campbell place across Bly Valley, right under the shadow of Gearhart Mountain. "I loved the Campbell Ranch--I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I bought that." It was 12,000 acres, half private, and half BLM & amp; Forest Service. "The cows were so easy to take care of there," Carson said.

Carson and Pixie sold the Campbell Ranch six years later, downsizing to the current 184-acre Bonanza ranch. Peeksey, his wife of almost 60 years, passed away in 2018, and their son, Vince, passed away in 2020.

Carson is survived by his sister Molly Waters of Cottonwood, ID; sisters-in-laws Michele Mangan, Mary Mangan and Rosalie (Tony Atilano), all of the Sacramento area; children Sharon (Mark) Anderson of Bismarck, ND; Sheila McKelvie of Lakeview, OR; Matt (Shaun) Merkley of Bonanza; daughter-in-law Jessie Merkley of Flourney, CA; Mike (Cindy) Merkley of Fallon, NV, and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Merkley-Lowry of Klamath Falls; grandchildren Michael Merkley, Caitlyn Merkley, Carson Merkley, Claire Lowry, Madeline Lowry, and Mikell Lowry, all of Bonanza/Klamath Falls; Candice Butcher, Austin Anderson, Will Anderson, Andy Haggerty, Shawn Haggerty, Michaela McKelvie, Jessica Merkley, Brin Merkley, Libby Merkley, Charleigh Merkley, Caleb Merkley, Dodge Merkley, Colin Merkley, Ryan Merkley and Blane Merkley of California, Nevada, Montana, Virginia, Oregon and Arizona; plus 11 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be sent to either: Bonanza Ambulance Service; St. Pius X Catholic Church, Klamath Falls, OR; St, Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, Bonanza, OR, or St. James Catholic Church, Bly, OR.

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for Carson

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Recitation of the Rosary
July 2, 2022

10:30 AM
St. Pius X Catholic Church
4880 Bristol Ave
Klamath Falls, OR 97603

Mass of Christian Burial
July 2, 2022

11:00 AM
St. Pius X Catholic Church
4880 Bristol Ave
Klamath Falls, OR 97603

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