• 59°

True Lawrence Countian: Merrill Humphreys

Each day of one’s life brings a new challenge. Each day brings ups and downs in one’s life.

I recently ran for public office and lost. The following day, I woke up and my daily routine returned to normal.

On Nov. 14, 2002, my boyhood friend, Merrill Humphreys, had a terrible accident. The following day, he began the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

Merrill David Humphreys was born to Herald and Sadie Humphreys some 60 years ago. He attended Andis Grade School before entering Dawson-Bryant High School as a freshman. Merrill and I graduated together in 1965.

We played side by side on the Hornet defensive line our senior year. Merrill was a much underrated defensive tackle. Merrill, Dick Dennin, Mark Malone, and Manuel Willis were my closest friends. Manuel had a very pretty sister, Edith Willis. Merrill was the first to spot her, and they became high school sweethearts. On July 22, 1967, they were married. Following graduation, Merrill served four years in the U.S. Air Force. He was first stationed in Panama and completed his active duty at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Ill.

In 1972, he began a 28-year career at the Dayton-Malleable. Edith would work at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office. She has been employed with Joe Hurley Insurance for the over 20 years. Two sons, Darrell and Jon David, were born to Merrill and Edith.

Darrell was an outstanding basketball player in high school. He later taught at Dawson-Bryant High School and coached the Hornets basketball team.

He is currently assistant principal at Rock Hill High School. J.D., an outstanding Hornet football player, lives in Findlay and works for Marathon.

Nov. 14, 2002, was a day that changed Merrill’s life forever.

He was performing an operation he had done many times in the past, loading a tractor onto a small trailer.

During this procedure, the tractor slid off the ramps connected to the trailer and fell into gravel. The tractor overturned on Merrill striking him in his chest.

The resulting injury led to paralysis of his lower body. His spinal column was damaged. It was determined that any operations could do even more harm than good.

So there you have it. I lost an election. Big deal. My friend, Merrill Humphreys, lost the use of his legs for the rest of his life.

Did this slow him down? Not that you would notice. Merrill still can be seen at Hornet athletic events. He has been a member of the Hornets Nest Athletic Boosters since 1972. He is still active.

Did Merrill feel sorry for himself? Probably. Did he pick up the pieces and move forward? Absolutely.

With the help of family and friends, he is still an active and productive individual. A volunteer his entire life, Merrill coached elementary athletics, Little League baseball, and Little League basketball.

He has attended every State Basketball finals since 1982 with the exception of 2003. Merrill Humphreys, husband, father, and volunteer, represents what it means to be a true Lawrence Countian.

Mike Nourse is a retired educator and contributing columnist for The Ironton Tribune. He lives in Coal Grove with wife Clara Gail, also a retired educator.