Merlin Lee “Mert” Zeller
HITCHCOCK - Merlin Lee “Mert” Zeller, 90, of Hitchcock, Texas and a devoted husband to Nancy, father, PaPa, brother, and son passed suddenly on Friday, April 29, 2022. Mert was born July 28, 1931, in Galveston, Texas. He was the third of six children born to Harold and Ruby Zeller. During his time at Ball High School he was a lifeguard at Murdock’s, participated in the ROTC program, and found a love for playing baseball. After graduating he went on to play for a minor league team in Louisiana, second base for the Galveston Whitecaps and was an American Legion Baseball team manager. He also served in the National Guard.
At the age of 19, Mert was attending a Ball High School football game when he saw a young lady with whom he would spend the next 70 years of his life. One of their first dates was riding down the beach in a car. Sand and water would blow up through the holes in the floorboard. Nancy and Mert were married on November 15, 1951. Four years later they had two beautiful children, Mike and Sheri, just 12 months apart. Mert continued his passion for baseball by coaching Mike in Little League, rooting him on in the Hitchcock High School stands, and later cheering for his grandkids and great-grandson as he gave them his best baseball tips. Nancy and Mert would stay active in the community for many years. They both bowled for the Chaparral League at the Chaparral Club where Mert was president for multiple years. They always made time for each other. For years they would have a weekly date night at the VFW Hall dances. Mert was the Jake Blues to Nancy’s Elwood Blues. They would head to Vegas or Louisiana on a whim. He would get the “itch” and off they were.
After working for the Santa Fe Railroad, Mert worked as a machinist and a maintenance supervisor for Monsanto before earning early retirement in 1983. He also organized their company softball team since he had experience playing for the Galveston Merchants. During retirement, he took pleasure in taking care of his rent houses, lawn, and helping out at Zeller’s Bait Camp. He really enjoyed visiting with all his friends hanging out at Zeller’s and his neighbors that would stop by to share a beer on the front yard swing. He also took time for himself. He played a weekly card game for many years with his lifelong friends (after getting tacos at El Sombrero of course). Many days you could find him relaxing in “his room” watching gameshows or baseball games, in particularly the Astros. He rarely missed a game. You could also see him studying the dogs, so that he was ready to place his bets at Gulf Greyhound Park. In recent years especially, he very much enjoyed visiting with his baby brother, Alfred. His last living sibling.
Mert or PaPa to his grandkids, will be missed tremendously. His smile. His advice. His baseball talks. Learning card games from him. Too many reasons to list. He was preceded in death by his wife, Nancy; sisters, Geraldine and Beverly; brothers, Harold and Ronald; his parents and his great-granddaughter, Haley Frizzell.
He is survived by his son, Mike Zeller; daughter, Sheri Buchhorn and husband, Gordon; grandchildren, Michele Frizzell (Brian), Wesley Buchhorn (Rachel), Erin McAfee (Dan), Amy Buchhorn, Tim Buchhorn; and great grandchildren, Brian Kyle Frizzell, Talen, Vail, Taylor and Ella McAfee, Makenzee and Maddee McCombs and Tinley and Jace Payton; as well as many nieces and nephews.
Both Mert and Nancy will be remembered in an informal graveside service on Monday, May 9, 2022, at 4:00 p.m., Hayes Grace Memorial Park, Hitchcock, Texas.
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