Merle John Donek was born on July 24, 1940, in Pulaski Township, Morrison County, to Alfred George Donek and Caroline B. (Krystocek) Donek. He was baptized and confirmed at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Harding. Merle received his education from Holy Trinity Catholic School in Pierz, in 1955.
In the late 1950s, Merle logged on the Gunflint Trail in Grand Marais with his cousin, worked construction in Little Falls, and was a welder in the early 1960s in St. Paul. He later started Donek Manufacturing in the early 1970s and moved from Elk River to Harding in 1976 to farm, work in his machine shop, and raise his family with wife, Donna (Lane), who he was married to for twenty-four years.
Merle will be remembered for his love of the outdoors; chasing big pike, hunting turkey, hunting deer and bear with his ‘smokepole’, and camping and ‘mudding’ at Mead, Sucker, Bass and other lakes in his favorite camping spots in the Effie area. He loved his Westerns, classic country, and listening to guitar music. He was talented in building anything from toy boxes to constructing fish houses and designing trailers through his talent for welding; Merle could wield a welder like Picasso a paint brush and also fashioned woodcrafts and log furniture from scratch in ‘Pop’s Garage.’ Finally, Merle will leave us all with his witty sayings, such as ‘Yay-coo’ he borrowed from Auntie Margie, ‘This is hows you dooz it’, ‘Mmmmm dat good’, or his short, simple reply of ‘NOT!’ When asked how he was doing he would reply with ‘Got to.’ He would offer visitors a coffee in the morning and maybe a ‘bump’ in the evening, often telling you to ‘Run ‘er through!’ He also loved to squeeze the cheeks of his children and later his grandchildren in a gesture he referred to as ‘Dope.’
Merle’s loving family includes his six children: Debbie (Tom) Bowman of Harding; Cynthia (Perry) Bunting of Brainerd; John (Melissa) of Harding; Laurie (Steve) Sept of Harding; Sandra (Brian) Kimman of Hillman and Julie (David) Dosh of Brainerd; thirteen grandchildren: Wyatt, Gavin, Chase; Mallory, Gabe; Kaela, Bayley, Megan, Cadie; Samantha, Brittney; and Tanner and Mackenzie. Merle’s companion, Patty or Patsy Wolvert of thirty-four years and her children: Charlene (Joe Osvold); Julie (Chad) Rubner; John (Denise) Osvold and Jackie (Jason) Otto; and seven grandchildren: Andy, Ryan, Matt (Maria); Michael, Corey, Nick, Patrick; Brandon (Becca); Jason, Jessie and great-grandchild, Keith Osvold.
Merle was preceded in death by his parents and Joe Osvold.
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