Born November 6, 1951, in East Chicago, Indiana, to Ernest and Helen Merkelis, he grew up in Calumet City, Illinois. In 1972, he married his wife Janice and during the next 32 years, they founded and built one of the largest residential and commercial security businesses in the South Chicago metropolitan area. They moved to the local Clayton area in 2011 after selling their business and entering retirement.
Ernie will be remembered as a loyal and dedicated husband to his wife Janice, but also for his avid interests in aviation and golf. He owned two aircraft, including an aerobatic Great Lakes biplane, and was frequently seen honing his skills in the skies over Heavens Landing Airpark. He was a long-time member of the Quiet Birdmen.
Probably his greatest recreational passion was the game of golf, which he excelled at and spent much of his free time studying and practicing. He collected antique golf equipment and golf related memorabilia, and had many items which had either been owned by or signed by some of the greatest golfers in America. He had played hundreds of courses in the United States, and was a member of Calumet Country Club in Chicago and Waterfall Club here in Rabun County. He achieved one of golf’s rarest and most coveted accomplishments, a hole-in-one, on the ninth hole at Idlewild Country Club, near Chicago.
Ernie is survived by his wife, Janice; his mother Helen; two brothers, John and Tom; and a sister, Marilu.
A Celebration of Life service is planned at the Waterfall Club on Friday, Aug. 1, at 4:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Ernie’s name be sent to: Rabun Paws 4 Life, P.O. Box 216, Clayton, Georgia, 30525.
Local arrangements are being handled by Beck Funeral Home.
The Clayton Tribune, July 31, 2014