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MEEKER I Nyla and Dick Merriam have passed down a sincere appreciation of life, career longevity and set an example of a marriage that lasts the test of time — having been married since 1948.
Dick came to Meeker in 1944. Duane came to the area first and Dick followed when he was 18 years old. His uncle, Joe Livingston, set Dick and his brother Duane up in the sheep business.
In the winter, they ran sheep down river in Scenery and Smith gulches and on the old Ward place as well as the Fritzlan place. They would trail the sheep up the river to their summer permit above Buford.
Dick packed the camps in on three mules to a cabin “between the rivers” above the old Buford School.
He went to town to get groceries one day in 1946 and met Nyla Taylor. Her father owned the store at the time.
Nyla came to town in 1936 at the age of 7. She is the eldest of seven children born to Sherman and Deltha Taylor. They moved their family from LaPoint, Utah, when Sherman took a job running mail from Meeker to Rangely. (The Taylor family history will be included in a future edition.)
Nyla attended school in Meeker and was graduated in 1947. She began working as a telephone operator while still in high school. If they needed the town marshal, they turned on a light and he would call in. If there was a fire, they would ring the siren. They knew pretty well what was happening in Meeker.
It was not uncommon for a person to call in and ask to connect to someone. The operator knew if the person wasn’t home, and why. It was an enjoyable job for Nyla and she worked there until she and Dick were married; then again after her kids were older, in 1959.
She worked as an operator until the system “went to dial in February, 1965,” she said. She took that Sunday off and started work for White River Electric Association, a job she held for 27 years until her retirement in 1991. She said she “enjoyed every bit of it.”
When Dick and Nyla were first married, they went with the sheep in the summers and had an apartment in town. They sold the sheep in 1951 and moved to the home where they currently reside. Dick’s brother, Duane, and his wife, Jerry, moved into the house just two houses down and it was a great place to raise a family.
Dick and Nyla had John in 1948, Donald in 1950, Gary in 1952, Joyce in 1954 and Gordon in 1955.
The Merriams spent their time following their children as they grew up. The boys played football, basketball, baseball and wrestled and ran track in junior high. John Irwin started the Old Timers Association Baseball and John began playing when he was 8-years-old.
Nyla said, “Charley Holmes was the coach then.”
John and Donald played on the 1967 basketball team that placed fourth in the state. (The best finish until 2009 by a boys’ team.)
All of their children attended college and have had successful careers. John taught school and was a principal and superintendent for a combined 38 years; Donald continues to drive a truck in Colorado; Gary has always lived in Meeker and, along with his various careers, has always been a member of the volunteer fire department. His sons represent third-generation volunteers for Meeker, and they have volunteered endlessly in the community.
Joyce will have worked for the Job Corps for 35 years in June, when she will retire to her Collbran home with her family. Gordon and his wife live in Salt Lake City, where he is the purchasing manager for a gold mine.
Dick and Nyla have 17 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. They are as proud of their great-grandchildren as they were of their children, but they don’t get to follow them like they want. Dick and Nyla are now 84 and 87 years old, but the pictures that fill their home and the visits from family keep them up on what is happening.
Dick served on the Meeker Town Board from 1954 to 1958, the Sanitation Board for seven years, the Pioneers hospital board for 12 years and he was a volunteer for the fire department and ambulance from 1958 to 1975.
The Merriams have been examples of consistency and dependability through the years. They have enjoyed the life the town has provided, supporting their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as they grew up and were involved in school activities.
The combination of Dick’s and Nyla’s sincerity, kindness and sense of humor has resulted in continued generations that devote time to family and continue to contribute to the community.