Merle Warner Huntington Jr., 92, of Longboat Key and Brevard, N.C., died Sept. 9.
Born Nov. 5, 1920, in the oil-boom town of Bradford, Pa., he was named Junior Huntington on his original birth certificate, and his family always called him “Bill” because he was born at the beginning of the month.
He attended Bradford High School and studied at Jamestown Business College, in Jamestown, N.Y., and in 1941, he married fellow Jamestown graduate Barbara Griffin, who died in 1992. The couple had two sons, Jeffrey and Kevin.
Mr. Huntington joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 and trained stateside at Sampson Naval Base on Seneca Lake near Oneonta, N.Y., and continued serving in Buffalo, N.Y., until his discharge in 1946.
In Buffalo, Mr. Huntington worked for Brace Mueller Huntley, a steel warehouse before taking a position with newly formed Kaiser-Frazer auto manufacturer in the enormous Willow Run plant built near Ypsilanti, Mich., to successfully build thousands of B-24 bombers. In 1953, Kaiser-Frazer sales collapsed, and Mr. Huntington took a sales-engineering position with Plymouth Stamping in nearby Plymouth, Mich., and eventually held an equity position with Warren Products, of Northville, Mich.
Eventually, he expanded his position to complete ownership of Warren Products, which he sold in 1992.
Mr. Huntington was a Cub Scout leader and active in Boy Scouts and enjoyed boating, hunting, skiing, fishing and camping. He was an elder in First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth, where he sang in the choir, taught Sunday school and was often chosen to sing “O, Holy Night” for the Christmas Eve midnight service.
Mr. Huntington fell in love with Longboat Key and, later, Brevard, and seasonally relocated to both towns. He played senior doubles tennis and was an active member of the Sarasota Bay Rotary Club.
His continued involvement with the Presbyterian Church and activities in Connestee Falls in Brevard led to his introduction to Evelyn “Evey” Bispham Spache. He took up motorcycle riding in his 70s and courted “his Evey” on his Harley, which worked. The couple married in 1997. She brought him into the large, loving Bispham family and introduced him to international travel.
He was a charter member of Christ Church of Longboat Key, Presbyterian.
Mr. Huntington is survived by his wife, Evelyn; sons Jeffrey and Kevin; stepchildren Margo Balaski and Raymond Schoonover; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Longboat Key Historical Society, 5380 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Suite 105, Longboat Key, Fla., 34228-2048.
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