ERIE — Pastor Merl J. Swayze Sr., 76, of rural Erie died at 1:19 a.m. Saturday, March 20, 2010, at Freeman West Hospital in Joplin.
He was born May 20, 1933, in Parsons to Everett W. and Lilly May (Beasley) Swayze. He grew up in Parsons, Toponas, Colo., and Michigan.
From 1953-1955, he served in the U.S. Army. Following his honorable discharge, he returned to Parsons, where he worked at Jarboe Feedlot and later as a machinist at Ankortite/Dayton Superior for 30 years. He also served as pastor at Excelsior House of Prayer for 30 years.
Through the years, he served as Boy Scout scoutmaster, coached baseball and softball teams for 25 years, including Open Bible Church and Excelsior House of Prayer softball teams, and ministered at the Neosho County Jail. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, painting, telling stories, spending time with his family and sharing his love of the Lord.
He married Catherine L. Dixon on Sept. 6, 1953, at Open Bible Church in Parsons. She survives of the home.
Other survivors include two sons, Merl James Swayze Jr. and his wife, Becky, of Parsons and Rocky Swayze and his wife, Gaylene, of Erie; five daughters, Brenda A. Elsworth and her husband, Michael, of Erie, Robin Fuentez and her husband, Joe, of Parsons, Rhonda G. Murphy and her husband, Thomas, of Altamont, Missy Page and her husband, Rob, of Oswego and Bambi Swayze of Parsons; Gene Gilley, who was raised in the family home; 21 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Vera Ellis.
The service will be at 2 p.m. today at Excelsior House of Prayer. Burial will be on the family farm. The family received friends on Tuesday at Excelsior House of Prayer.
Memorials are suggested to Excelsior House of Prayer and may be left at or mailed to Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home, P.O. Box 374, Parsons, 67357.
Online condolences may be left at www.forbeshoffman.com.