Merlin G. Hermsen, 95, of Independence, died Saturday Nov. 21, at Lexington Estates in Independence.

Merlin was born Jan. 3, 1925, in Holy Cross, the son of Alphonse L. and Olivia H. (Wernke) Hermsen. He attended elementary schools in rural Dubuque County. In 1937 his parents purchased a farm southeast of Independence and he began attending St. John’s Catholic School. He joined the United States Army in 1946 and served in Korea during the peacetime occupation prior to the Korean War. After his service, he returned to Independence to help take care of his family and the farm. He started working at John Deere in Waterloo, in 1951 and retired in 1983. July 19, 1975, he married Clara Hoeger at St. Columbkille Church in Dubuque, and together they purchased a home in Independence. Clara died June 11, 1988. He married Jeanne Frances (Robinson Connell) Sept. 24, 1994, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Independence. Merlin was a member of St. John’s Catholic Church, Catholic Order of the Foresters since 1952, and the Knights of Columbus since 1957.

Merlin loved to stay busy with his hands and was an avid woodworker. Many of his projects throughout the years were created for family or friends. He also donated several projects to St. John’s Church. He collected John Deere Toy Tractors and memorabilia and would often go to farm toy shows throughout the state.

He is survived by his wife, Jeanne Hermsen, Independence; three step-sons: Michael (Ava) Connell, Decorah, Patrick (Anna) Connell, Marana, Ariz., and David (Kris) Connell, Lakeville, Minn.; three step-daughters: Kathleen (Rocky) Hettinger, Gilbert, Ariz., Dianne (Chip) Davis, Van Meter, and Krista James, Winthrop; 20 step-grandchildren; 27 step-great-grandchildren; a sister, Anna Mae Strawn, Oelwein; a sister-in-law, Florence Hermsen, Independence; and twenty-four nieces and nephews.

Merlin was preceded in death by his parents, Alphonse and Olivia Hermsen; his first wife, Clara Hermsen; three brothers: James Hermsen, John (Lois) Hermsen, and Kenneth Hermsen; a sister, Alvera (John) Hickey; a step-grand-daughter, Ashley Cooper; a brother-in-law, Dilbert Strawn; and two nephews, Jerry and Steve Strawn.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held Wednesday, Nov. 25, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Independence, with Rev. David Beckman presiding. Burial was at St. John’s Catholic Cemetery in Independence. The Reiff Family Center — Funeral Home & Crematory in Independence assisted the family with arrangements.

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