Merl was in the artillery branch of the US Army, serving stateside and in Germany where he participated in many training exercises. He achieved the rank of Sergeant E5.
Upon returning to civilian life, Merl worked in the printing business for 34 years; after he retired he started volunteering at the Minnesota Military Museum.
He had a love of history and of old things. Often, while laboring away on some project, Merl would remark that he felt very honored to work on the artifacts of Minnesota's military heritage. His work was always well thought out and careful. Merl was especially interested in guns and knives. At the museum he put this knowledge and talent to good use cleaning and restoring the museum’s collection of firearms and edged weapons. During the building of the museum’s special 150th anniversary Civil War exhibit, Merl helped with the construction of new exhibit cases and on many other aspects of the exhibit, right up to the its opening event.
For a number of years Merl also did the custodial work in the museum. It was a rare day when anyone could find a fingerprint or speck of dust in the exhibit areas.
Merl died March 29, 2012 and is buried at the Minnesota Veterans Cemetery near Camp Ripley.