Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 31
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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Leland G. Merrill Jr.

Mildred Gothelf Terk

Leland G. Merrill Jr.

Leland G. Merrill Jr.

Leland G. Merrill Jr., 88, Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University and a Princeton resident for more than 50 years, died July 28.

Born in Illinois, he was raised in Parkersburg, W.Va. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree from Michigan State University (MSU), where he was an All-American wrestler and won third place in his weight class in the NCAA.

After graduating from MSU in 1942, he entered the U.S. Army and trained in the southwestern U.S., preparing to fight against Rommelís troops in Africa. As the focus of European war shifted, he was sent to the United Kingdom instead and entered France from England via Utah Beach. He left the service as a Major at the age of 25 and entered a Ph.D. program in entomology at Rutgers University. While there he also trained at the New York Athletic Club for the 1948 Olympics in London, returning to Europe to win a bronze medal in wrestling.

After receiving his Ph.D. from Rutgers, he joined the MSU faculty in East Lansing, Mich., where he met Virginia Gilhooley, who would be his wife for over 50 years until her death in 2001.

Prof. Merrill returned to Rutgers in 1953 as a professor and extension specialist, teaching and working with farmers throughout the state as a fruit tree specialist, refereeing intercollegiate wrestling, and serving in the Army reserves. He was named Dean of the College of Agriculture in the 1960s and guided its transition to what is now Cook College. He worked with the Rutgers Marine Science Institute in the 1970s, playing a critical role in gaining National Park status for the New Jersey Pine Barrens and preserving the aquifer that serves much of South Jersey. When he retired as Professor Emeritus from Rutgers, he became coach of the Princeton High School wrestling team for several seasons.

A member of Nassau Presbyterian Church for half a century, he taught Sunday school for many years and served as a Deacon and Elder.

Throughout his life Dr. Merrillís exhaustive knowledge of plants, trees, birds, and insects established him as a reliable expert and source of advice to friends, neighbors, and local government. He was an avid long-distance runner and fitness advocate. In his 80s, he became a walking enthusiast, a familiar figure walking the paths at Stonebridge, the retirement community in Skillman where he spent his final years.

He is survived by two daughters, Alison Connors of Princeton and Susan Thomas of Fenton, Mich.; and four grandchildren.

The funeral service will be private. Memorial donations may be made to The New Jersey Academy of Science (, which supports science education and research in the state.

Mildred Gothelf Terk

Mildred Gothelf Terk, age 93, of Miami Beach, Florida, daughter of the late Mae and Harry Seiken, passed away on Wednesday, July 29, 2009.

Born April 14, 1916, in Hoboken, New Jersey, she lived in Jersey City, New Jersey for many years, before relocating to Florida.

Survivors include daughters Reina Reisler of Oceanport, and Sally (Michael) Glogoff of Princeton, NJ; brother, Murray Seiken; grandsons, Jeffrey and Steven Reisler, and David and Marc Glogoff; and nine great grandchildren. She was pre-ceded in death by her husbands, Louis M. Gothelf and Irving Terk, and her sister, Rita Druz.

A service was held Sunday, August 2, 2009, at the Sanctuary of Abraham and Sarah, New Cedar Park Cemetery, Paramus, NJ.

Memorial donations may be made to The Rock Brook School, 109 Orchard Road, Skillman, NJ 08558 or the Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, N.J. 084542.

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