William Edward Merritt III
William Edward Merritt, III, passed on August 26 due to complications from COVID 19. He was 51 and beloved by everyone who got to know him. Bill is survived by two younger sisters, Crystal and Pamela Merritt.
Bill was a man-about-town who made friends all over St. Louis. He really enjoyed the city. He graduated from the Judevine Center for Autism with a package of spoken words, signs and social skills to take on the city with passion and zeal.
He loved planes, trains and automobiles (his van, specifically). He indulged his love of aviation at the St. Louis Science Center, watching model airplanes fly at Buder Park and watching birds of prey (owls! oh, how he loved owls) at the Wild Bird Sanctuary and in Forest Park. He also enjoyed riding the Metro to the end of the line and playing train at the Transportation Museum.
In a car or van, Bill really wanted to sit up front and man the radio dial; he was not a fan of newfangled digital bullshit complicating the radio. His favorite station was Magic 108 and he followed the old school jams down the dial when they changed to 104. He once locked in on Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” and sang it when it was on the radio … and while the radio was off … every minute or two … for three years. His favorite bit was the nonsense phrase “ba de ya de ya de ya” on repeat.
He used basic ASL words and very short sentences; he was hard to understand in many ways if you weren’t paying attention and listening with your whole self. It would piss him off, being misunderstood. He worked for years to learn those words and wanted to be heard! Bill would go off on anyone who ignored him — he hated cell phones, being told to calm down and not being respected. You’d get fussed at, yelled at or if he had really had it, he’d whip off his shoe and bang his head with it.
But most of the time Bill was mischievous, cheerful and funny. He loved to eat fast food and tease you with a French fry. Before the pandemic and recent health challenges, he loved to dine out. He loved McDonalds and Kit-Kats and KFC and Chips Ahoy and Doritos and Lunchables and Pizza Hut and and Imo’s and The Wheelhouse and Pickles Deli. He grew up a Pepsi kid, switched to Dr Pepper in his 20’s, flirted with Pepsi again but finally became a committed Coke man in his 40’s. He also liked to mix flavors at the soda fountain.
In addition to his sisters, Billy loved his direct care staff at EasterSeals Midwest. Well, not all of them. He loved energetic, tireless Black women like Tiara, Trecia and Lay to name a few who had the joy of dealing with him. He was also particularly fond of the nurses and sitters at Mercy South, the staff at Creve Coeur Dental and the doctors and staff at Family Care Health Centers. All of these folks accept Medicaid and warmly welcomed and supported Bill.
Bill faced intersectional challenges as a Black man, as an intellectually disabled man, as a poor man, as a Medicaid patient and as a managed care client. A fitting legacy would be for the community to meet at that intersection and continue to do the work. Action St. Louis has agreed to take on this challenge and guide the work; learn more and donate here: https://actionstl.org/donate
If you can’t donate, please go see one of the local attractions Bill loved and think of him with a smile.
What a beautiful tribute. My thoughts are with y’all.
Bill will forever remain in my heart. He has taken his humor with him and sharing it with his Mom and Dad. No more sickness or pain.
Lovely tribute. So sorry to hear of his passing but his spirit will live on.
I am so sorry for your loss. I will miss your stories about Bill. They always brightened my day.
Beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing Bill’s life and story with us.
What a wonderful life. Thanks for sharing Bill with us.
In the words of Bill’s beloved Earth, Wind and Fire:
“Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing
As we danced in the night
How the stars stole the night away, oh yeah”
Thank you for sharing a bit about his precious life. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Possibly the most beautiful obit I have ever read. Bill lives through the two of you. My heart remains broken for both of Bill’s adoring sisters. Much love.
Thinking of you all. I never met Bill in person, but I felt I knew him from the many Facebook posts you folks put up. His memory will forever be a blessing.
Thank you for sharing Bill’s life with us. Sending love and condolences to the family.
I feel privileged to have had a glimpse into Bill’s life and the love with which his sisters surrounded him. May his memory always be a blessing.
Never got the privilege of meeting Bill in person, but throughly enjoyed updates from Pamela about him. What a lovely and heartfelt picture has been painted of him in this writing. I will, most certainly, enjoy a KitKat (or three) in his memory.
Beautiful! God bless you all!
A beautiful tribute to a beautiful man! Sending you my love and support.
Such a beautiful and heartwarming tribute. Sending love to two amazing sisters ????
Rest in peace my brother.
What a joy it was to learn more about cousin Bill. Thank you and peace and love to you all.
What a lovely tribute, Crystal. My favorite line: “In a car or van, Bill really wanted to sit up front and man the radio dial; he was not a fan of newfangled digital bullshit complicating the radio.” I’ll be making a donation in Bill’s memory, and am keeping you and Pam in my (highly secular) prayers and meditation daily. So much love from Brooklyn. xo Nancy