In Memory of My Friend, Richard Merrill
by David Locke, BigBendChat.com
Richard Merrill, a devoted father, space systems software engineer, avid outdoorsman, friend to all and Big Bend Chat's beloved moderator for nearly 14 years, passed away on July 2, 2019 while hiking the Marufa Vega Trail in Big Bend National Park.
I met Richard about 15 years ago on old “bulletin board style” discussion group about, you guessed it, Big Bend. Like so many others, we shared a true love of the Big Bend Region. He would patiently and thoughtfully answer all the questions posted by others and if he didn't have the answer, he was humble enough to tell you he didn't, then turn around and hand all the research he found back to you. He very quickly became one of the most respected advisers on the bulletin board. At that time, that is all I knew of this faceless, friendly “RichardM.”
After I started Big Bend Chat, it didn't take long for me to find out I was in a little over my head. It became apparent, that I needed some good help. No one was more capable than Richard. He was smart, kind, thoughtful, even handed, trustworthy, friendly, generous, resourceful and very easy to talk to. He was the friendly advocate for all things relating to Big Bend and very generous with his extreme knowledge of this most magical place will all love. I never knew a man quite so willing to help as Richard. He graciously offered his time to moderate with massive effectiveness. It was nearly a year after asking him to be the moderator, that I finally met him in person! After meeting Richard face to face, you realize something extraordinary, he was the same guy in person as he was online. The consistent content of his character was what made him so great. Priceless, happy family memories were forged from his willingness to offer help, give warning and advice to so many people he didn't even know. On top of all that, he tirelessly kept the BBC page free of trolls and spam and did a lot of behind the scenes work debugging the site. He fielded questions for folks from all over the internet and across a variety of his personal interests. His easy-going, respectful tone was pleasant and friendly to all of those who communicated with him and he had an uncanny ability to find every bit of information he could find and just hand over to you.
Richard enjoyed his life and went to Big Bend every time he could get a chance. He promoted this passion with his daughter, Jennifer, whom he adored. He was truly a wonderful father, instilling the same values to her we all admired and appreciated about him. I and so many others who knew him will miss him terribly. He was my friend and fellow collaborator. The world has lost a good man. May he live on in the hearts and actions of all of us as a fine example of how to be to each other. Until we meet again on the trails of eternal happiness, adios amigo.
A GoFundMe page has been created to benefit his teenaged daughter's continuing education. To donate please go to http://www.gofundme.com/richardmerrill.