Merritt Ringer | Passages

Dr. Merritt Ringer Jr. died peacefully on Christmas day with his family at his bedside; he was a dozen days short of his 92nd birthday.

“I’ve gotten old,” he joked a few weeks before; and the solvents of age simply melted him away; we all should be so fortunate in our deaths.

Merritt Ringer was an army brat; he was born at Walter Reed hospital in Washington D.C., and grew up, among other places, in Virginia, Chicago, Wyoming and Hawaii. He attended the University of Texas before going to Northwestern University, where he met and married Lucy Funderburk from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Northwestern Medical School and did his internship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. During the Korean War, Merritt served as a captain in the air force amidst the peaceful cornfields of Illinois.

Following a brief stint as a doctor in Provo, Utah, Merritt and family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he enjoyed a long career in private practice which included teaching and becoming chief of staff at Boulder Community Hospital. He and Lucy raised three children in vibrant Boulder. They were members of the Country Club and enjoyed an active social life among young, affluent rising professionals. There were poker nights with doctors and an investment club. Dr. Ringer was an active golfer who combined modest power with clockwork swings to achieve respectable scores. In the early years of their marriage, Merritt and Lucy took their kids on annual trips around the Western United States in a station wagon. But in the mid-60s, they discovered Europe and a lifelong passion for international travel was born.

On one jaunt, they found Carmel, then a far quieter town; and in 1965, they bought a second home there. In 1982, he and Lucy retired to Carmel. He continued questing for experience through extensive foreign travel with Lucy and also made a solo stay in Cuernavaca, Mexico, to learn Spanish. When in Carmel, he and Lucy enjoyed again a rich social life with their many friends.

In 1992, Lucy died suddenly following minor surgery, tearing a huge hole in his life. Tragedy touched him again when his son, Eric, unexpectedly died. These events gave him a deeper appreciation of life. After a time, he married Linda Berges Barry of Visalia, Bakersfield and Sacramento, with whom he celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this past July. They traveled widely and enjoyed a lively social life in Carmel and in Friday Harbor, Washington, in the San Juan Islands. They loved tennis and boating, making many friends in those communities. Merritt formed “The Gourmet Guys” with four friends to cook up frequent feasts for their wives. He was an active member of the Beach Club, where Linda and his kids hosted an annual birthday party for him. He never met a party he did not like, and when he made a friend, it was for life; everyone who knew him remembers his booming, uninhibited laughter.

Dr. Ringer is survived by his wife, Linda; his son, Merritt and his wife, Sien; his daughter, Kristin, her children Stephanie and Daniel; and his daughter-in-law, Marjorie, and his granddaughter, Danielle, with her husband, Christopher; and by his step-children, Michael with his wife, Melissa, and Megan, and their families.

The whole family wants to thank hospice for their care in easing his path, helping his family and allowing him to live out his life at home. We are astonished and grateful that such a humane institution exists with government support at a time like this.

The family plans a private service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Merritt Ringer Jr. to the Carmel Public Library Foundation.