Merrell A. Lane, 67, of Wheatfield, died Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, after a lengthy illness in Strong Memorial Hospital Palliative Care, Rochester.
Lane was born Aug. 5, 1947, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert T. and Ruth (Moore) Lane. They moved to Niagara Falls when he was three months old to open the Lane Funeral Home Inc.
Lane graduated from LaSalle Senior High School in 1965. He then attended Niagara County Community College and graduated from Simmons School of Mortuary Science in 1967. He served as a staff sergeant in Vietnam in the U.S. Army, 1st Cavalry Division, where he served from January 1969 until his honorable discharge in August 1970. He then continued working at the funeral home until his retirement in 2010.
In 1995, Lane was asked by the Chamber of Commerce to chair a new committee, the Niagara Military Affairs Council, to lead the community in efforts to keep the Niagara Falls Air Base off the base closure list. He continued until stepping down last June due to his health but remained active as vice chairman. He was honored by numerous community groups for the work he did in 2005 during the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure).
He was chosen by former Chief of Staff of the Air Force N.A. Schwartz to represent New York state on his newly formed Civic Leaders group.
John A. Cooper Sr., current NIMAC chairman, said Lane led the grassroots community effort on behalf of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station for 18 years. During that time, over $100 million of investment was made in the installation. "Merrell had a passion for those who serve in our nation's military, and especially for the men and women of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station," he said.
Lane was a 53-year member of Bacon Memorial Presbyterian Church, where he served as an elder. He was a member and former district governor of the state Funeral Directors Association, a member and former president of the Erie Niagara Funeral Directors Association and a member of the Niagara County Funeral Directors Association, a 42-year member and former president of the Niagara Falls Kiwanis Club, on the board of directors of the Salvation Army, and the Niagara Beautification Commission. He enjoyed a lifelong hobby of rocketry and was a longtime member of the National Association of Rocketry.
He is survived by his wife, the former Patricia Wasley, who he married Feb. 15, 1974; two daughters, Jennifer (Richard) Overholt and Deborah (Neil) Townsend; three granddaughters, Mikayla Townsend, Leah Overholt and Lindsey Overholt; his brother, Robert T. (Kay) Lane Jr.; two brother-in-laws, Robert (Debra) Pils and Richard (Debra) Pils; two nephews; five nieces; and his dear friends, John and Jennifer Cooper.
Funeral services were held Tuesday at Bacon Memorial Presbyterian Church, Niagara Falls, with the Rev. Dr. O. Lee Holliday officiating. Interment was in Acacia Park Cemetery, Town of Pendleton. Arrangements were made by the Lane Funeral Home.
Merrell A. Lane