Merle W, Lawrence, age 76, retired owner and president of North Tahoe Cruises, inc., died at home in the retirement community of Oakmont in Santa Rosa, CA on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, following a lengthy illness.
Merle was born January 24, 1935, in San Francisco, to the late Frank and Georgia (Johnson) Lawrence. Frank was a Master Sergeant (Ret.) in the US Army and the family moved with his service, spending time in Germany and North Carolina, until settling In Fairfax, California in 1946 where Merle attended Fairfax Elementary School and three years at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley. Sir Francis Drake High School opened in San Anselmo in 1952 where Merle was a member of the first graduating class. After high school he attended classes at The College of Mann and worked as a letter carrier for the US Postal Service in Fairfax. He served in the U.S Army as a Platoon Leader at Fort Ord during the Korean Conflict; Merle was fond of saying that the Monterey Peninsula was safe from attack during his watch.
On September 2nd, 1956 he was united in marriage to Judith Rae Bosley at the Presidio in San Francisco. The couple lived In San Rafael until they settled in San Anselmo in 1962. Merle worked for Standard Oil of California and as a salesman for Fair Hlpsley Lumber Company in the late fifties and early sixties. During this period of his life, Merle was a member, and past president, of the Fairfax chapter of The Native Sons of the Golden West. He attended night classes at The University of San Francisco, where he graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree In Business Administration.
In 1979 Merle and Judy moved to Tahoe Vista, CA and in 1984 purchased North Tahoe Cruises and operated a tour boat named the Sun Runner, which was berthed at the Tahoe City Marina. In 1994 they had a paddlewheel style boat built and christened her the Tahoe Gal. They continued to operate the business until they retired .. During his time at Lake Tahoe, Merle was a board member of the Tahoe City Chamber of Commerce, and served two terms as the President of that board. He also served as a board member of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and was also a member of the Passenger Vessel Association. Merle was active in the Tahoe City Rotary Club and was presented Rotary International’s Paul Harris Award for distinguished service to the club and community. He continued his Rotary service in his retirement years and was also very active in the Marin ‘52 Alumnus Club, and had a keen interest In the Fairfax Historical Society.
Merle is survived by his wife of 56 years, Judy, his son and his wife, Kevin and Lynn of Petaluma; his daughter and her husband, Kelene and Neil Huise of Reno; two grandchildren, Nicholas Walker and Krlsta Hulse; his brother and his wife, Frank and Linda, of Santa Rosa. Nieces, nephews, other relatives, and many friends further survive him. In addition to his parents, his brother, Robert and sister, Irene Nienkark, preceded him in death.