Mearl Findley was born February 11, 1945 to Delmer and Marie Findley in Iowa, where he lived and went to school. He joined the United States Navy in 1963, and enjoyed the many exciting ventures that this experience gave him. Mearl ‘s Navy travels included Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Guam, South Carolina, California, Virginia and Florida. During his Navy career he became a missile technician on a submarine. When something went wrong inside the missile tube they called Mearl, being the smallest man on the submarine. Now that was a job that he wasn’t really fond of, but he did his job and he did it well. In December of 1974 while Mearl was stationed in Hawaii, he met a beautiful girl from Texas who he nicknamed his “Yellow Rose of Texas.” We instantly fell in love and when Mearl asked me to marry him I quickly said “I will.” On June 7, 1975 we were married in front of many family members and friends in Texas. Mearl, my son Bryan and I flew to Hawaii together and lived there happily where we celebrated the birth of our son Jeff and our first anniversary. We were transferred to Florida in 1976 where we welcomed the birth of our son Todd. It was in Florida that Mearl had his first heart in 1979 and went through a cardiac rehabilitation program which started his running career.
Mearl picked up many interests in his short life and running was one of them at which he excelled. He became a marathon runner. Despite having a quadruple bypass in 1985, Mearl trained for a year and a half and ran in the Houston Tenneco marathon with his brother Ron. He finished in 3 hours, 18 minutes and 41 seconds, finishing 593rd out of 4369 runners and soundly beating Ron! In 1988 Mearl had his second heart attack and his dreams of running in the Boston Marathon were shattered. Instead he decided he would walk and ride motorcycles, having the time of his life with his sons Jeff and Todd.
We moved to the beautiful Pacific Northwest in 1993 and every weekend was a new adventure. We went hiking, sight-seeing and it was wonderful. He would see something beautiful and stop as fast as he could whether it was by sliding in the gravel or turning too sharp without warning. He took up skiing; the man had no fear at all. After having his fifth heart attack in 2001 he was told by doctors he couldn’t work and he retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2002 after 17 years. He took up writing and also stayed home to babysit his grandson Tyson while his parents worked. I retired in 2005 and we had 5 wonderful years together doing whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to do it. Mearl loved all of his grandkids: Tyson, Andy, Madison, Bailey, Colby and Savannah and saw them as often as he could. He was more of a kid than them sometimes, playing legos, running to the mailbox, having pillow fights, reading books, watching movies and occasionally having foot races with them. We also had 10 great and wonderful Christmas parties I will never forget. He was the best decorator that a wife could ask for: very caring, loving and patient to boot. We will always miss the invitations that he wrote out.
We lost Mearl in 2009 after a final heart attack. We will all miss Mearl very much for he was a very special person to us all. A loving husband, father, grandfather, Papa, best friend, brother and just an all around great friend and supporter of his family. Ever since we got married and discussed it, Mearl and I both wanted to be donors. I wish everyone would do it. Since I had promised it would happen, it was an easy decision to follow through with that promise for Mearl. I am happy that it could help people. He has helped two people with cornea transplants, and over 30 people with his tissue donation.
By Katie Findley, wife of cornea and tissue donor Mearl Findley