A COLORADO LIFE
Family man emphasized manners to his kids
Denver Post, The
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Author: Virginia Culver
Merle Roedel was everyone's idea of a nice guy. "He just didn't have an explosive nature," said his sister, Ruth Rosenbrock of Brighton.
Roedel, who died at 81 at Brighton Care Center, lived all his life in Brighton, growing up on a farm and helping his dad raise sugar beets and alfalfa.
His career was as a machinist, but his life centered on his family.
When he met Lorraine Billinger-Dechant, a young widow who had two small sons, he insisted the boys go along on their first date.
"But he stood me up," said his wife, laughing. Roedel got stuck at work and couldn't get away.
They eventually had that first date - all four of them.
They married in 1961 and had two daughters, but it was one family - "no steps and no halves" when it came to whose kids were whose, said daughter Beth Roedel of Brighton.
Roedel was almost rigid about manners and taught his sons to be polite to women and open their doors, recalled son Duane Dechant of Lakewood.
"My brothers are so polite, I wouldn't mind dating them if we weren't related," Beth Roedel said.
Merle Roedel, a Lutheran, and his wife, a Catholic, were married by a priest in the priest's home. They remained loyal to their own churches, and she took all the children to the Catholic church while her husband went to the Lutheran service. On occasions when his wife was ill, he would take the kids to the Catholic church.
On their 25th anniversary, they restated their marriage vows with the entire family - including kids and grandkids - marching down the aisle together.
Roedel stocked the filling station he once owned with bubble gum and candy to give to customers' kids. Sometimes, he came home for lunch so he could play ball with his kids.
He loved to polka and "was the first one on the dance floor and the last one off," his wife said.
He also took up oil painting and woodworking and gave his works to family members. He could fix anything around the house, but his love was gardening. And even when his health failed, he kept at it, down on his hands and knees.
"Sometimes, he would have to crawl to the fence to pull himself up," Beth Roedel said.
Merle M. Roedel was born Nov. 14, 1925, and graduated from Brighton High School .
He owned Merle's Conoco station several years before becoming a machinist at Gardner Denver, a compressor manufacturer, and later at Rocky Flats.
He was one of the founders of the Brighton Ambulance Service, and often the driver.
In addition to his wife, sister, son and daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Lynnelle Nelson of Brighton; another son, Darrell Dechant of Westminster; and six grandchildren.
Staff writer Virginia Culver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-954-1223.