Robert K. Merrell
Aug 8, 1948 Ė June 27, 2007
The book Lamborghini Miura, The definitive analysis of Lamborghiniís first sensational V12 supercar by Coltrin and Marchet opens with a dedication by Marchet that reads:
It is also unfair and incredible that Bob Merrell will never see the completed restoration of the Miura that was the catalyst for our friendship.
In 1979 Bob convinced the owner of 3901 that he could rebuild the engine, and in searching for a knowledgeable ally for the work he found me. Iím sure as a Lamborghini mechanic I failed him miserably, but we shared passion for the car, enthusiasm for learning, and the daring presumption to try. The result, sadly, was not a running Miura, but rather a deep, lasting friendship. As we tried to comprehend the marvels of Italian engineering, I could not have predicted the profound effect Bob would have on my life.
As a friend he was unfailingly accepting, supportive, and generous with his resources, time, and love. We spent countless weekends together and shared many great times. He was there for me through some difficult times too. There was always a place at the dinner table for me, and I felt like an extended family member.
As a parent Bob introduced me to his children when they were brought home from the hospital; his son John in 1980 and his daughter Beth in 1982. Bob approached parenting with the same enthusiasm and passion that he had for life and I watched him become a wonderful father. I enjoyed being a part of John and Bethís lives as they grew and was sad to leave them when I moved to California in 1987.
However, it was as a role model that Bob had the greatest impact on my life. He was a successful entrepreneur, starting several businesses. He was an enthusiastic learner and the breadth and depth of his knowledge was amazing. Of course, he learned a lot by reading and compiled a vast library, but one of Bobís gifts was the ability to connect with people who could help him. He was never shy about admitting he didnít know something. In fact, he could be almost excited by the challenge and the prospect of learning something new. And then by doing as much as he could (and occasionally more), he gained experience. Combine knowledge and experience with reflection and you get wisdom, and Bob was the wisest person I know.
But what made him truly remarkable was that he shared his knowledge and wisdom with the same enthusiasm and passion, so those around him were deeply enriched.
Bob worked hard and once told me that by 8:00 in the morning he accomplished more that most people did in a day. He also played hard and enjoyed life to its fullest. His many, many interests included sailing, camping, welding, flying, boating, racing cars, skiing, going on cruises, archery, scuba diving, sports cars, motorcycles, and dancing.
As successful, knowledgeable, and wise as he was, he was also kind, generous, and genuinely modest. He often didnít understand or appreciate the lasting impact he had on people.
When Bob found me I was 23 years old and fresh out of college. I had left my native California, moved away from everything I knew, started my first job, and got married. The years between 23 and 31 (when I left Seattle) are formative in anyoneís life. I was extremely fortunate to have Bob as my role model, mentor, and best friend. I learned by his example that we are capable of almost anything we decide to achieve because the perceived limitations are generally of our own making. Bob showed me that the resources we need to accomplish our goals are out there Ė we just need to find them. He gave me a whole new way to think about things, and I am a stronger, more capable person because of him.
Itís sadly common that we let day-to-day life quietly steal away the things that are most important, and we take for granted that family and friends will always be there so we donít tell them how we really, deeply feel. I regret that since returning to California in 1987 I did not spend enough time with Bob and his family. I let the years slip by without enough cards, phone calls, or visits until I got his e-mail on February 5, 2007 saying that he had pancreatic cancer. But I did get to spend some time with him that year, and I'm grateful that I said all the things to him that I wanted to say.
On June 27th, 2007 I had the sad privilege of being at his side as the cancer stole him from us so prematurely. He has left a wonderful lasting legacy of love, knowledge, and wisdom to his family and friends. Itís impossible to summarize what I learned from Bob, but Iíll try:
I encourage you to follow his example, as I will strive to do.
He will always be missed, and always remembered with love and gratitude,
June 27, 2008 - I've been thinking that today I would move this dedication page to a place within the web site. Yet I also think that we should be reminded of people like Bob who have been powerful influences in our lives, and what we have learned from them. Itís also good to remember people, here and gone, who have crafted us in more subtle ways. Iím taking a moment to try to bring to the surface the part of Bob that will always be with me Ė to treasure what he taught me through his friendship and examples, and to try to remember the things that are truly important.
Washington Memorial Park (Bonney Watson)