Merle L. Nell was born on June 28, 1938, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Vernon, New York, when he was a child, and he attended school in the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill School District, graduating in 1956. Merle enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1956 and served as a military police officer until his honorable discharge in 1958. He married Susan R. Weimer in 1965, and they had three children, Scott, Lisa, and Mark.
Merle joined the Volunteer Fire Company of Vernon, Inc. in 1965 and was active with the department right up until the time of his passing. Merle served as an officer in the department for several years and was elected chief in 1983. Merle also served as president of the fire company for several years during the 1990s. Merle had been recognized in 2015 for his 50 years of service to the fire company and was serving as fire police captain at the time of his death. Merle passed on his passion for the fire service to his sons. Scott Nell is currently the chief of the Vernon Fire Company, and Mark Nell is the chief of the neighboring Verona Volunteer Fire Department. Scott’s two sons, Adam and Matthew Nell, are active firefighters with Vernon, while Mark’s son, Zachary Nell, is a junior firefighter with Verona.
Merle retired from the U.S. Postal Service with over 30 years of service, having worked as a postal clerk at the Vernon Post Office and then delivering mail as a rural carrier. Merle spent his retirement camping with his family with his recreational vehicle and traveling throughout the country. Merle and Susan even drove their RV to Alaska one summer to vacation.