When the music of the holy hills of heaven rang out, Merle L. Embleton, after five heart attacks, seven hip replacements, a bout with cancer and diabetes, and more than four years of bed confinement, danced home. He was set free on Friday, November 13, 2020. He was 84.
Merle was born at his family home in Greenwood, Delaware to John and Martha Embleton, where he joined five siblings. He attended Greenwood Mennonite School, and graduated from Western Mennonite High School in Salem, Oregon.
Merle returned to Delaware and at age 20, married Inez Guengerich. He was drafted and as a conscientious objector, he was placed in the Alternative Service Program and sent to Norristown, Pennsylvania, where he served two years at a psychiatric hospital. Two children were born to them there. They returned to Delaware, and God quickly blessed them with two more…four babies in four years, four months.
Merle bought a backhoe and asked his mom if he could practice digging….in her backyard. He was her baby, so of course, she said yes. He called his new enterprise, Merle L. Embleton, Earth Mechanic. He became a skilled operator.
After 10 years, Merle became a partner in an innovative house-building company, Nanticoke Homes. After another 10 years, he left that business and bought The Marble Works. Merle had an intrepid, entrepreneurial spirit and he invested in a wide range of ventures: Yoder’s Dutch Oven, Embleton’s Gifts and Bake Shop, EMT electric and utilities operation and many rentals. He ran his life by the familiar instruction from Ecclesiastics: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
Merle had an undisguised affection for fast cars and motorcycles. He obtained his pilot’s license and flew his own planes for 30 years. He and Inez enjoyed traveling in their RV all over the United States. He was a longtime board member of Christian Fellowship Mission, an outreach to Haiti, and he visited the projects there many times. He also traveled to assist in areas struck by floods and hurricanes with Mennonite Disaster Service. Merle and Inez often wintered in Sarasota, Florida, where they attended Bethel Mennonite Church.
Merle had an unusual gift of music; it was always a part of his life. For many years he sang with Inez, his sister Dottie Yoder, and friend Earl Mast in a group called the Embletones. They performed in churches, at weddings, and on the radio. As a young man, he began a chorus with the youth group from the Greenwood Mennonite Church. He shaped these young voices into a pleasing sound, led them through the process of making two recordings, and chaperoned them on tours to neighboring states. Merle was a frequent, enthusiastic song leader and delighted in directing a congregation in spirited hymns. Just two days before he died, listening to his favorite southern gospel group, The Cathedrals, he raised his hands to direct them as they sang a song he loved, “I Will Serve Thee”.
Merle was committed to his family. His children learned to work alongside him and he was encouraging with his phrase, “You can do it!” He stressed being on time and doing every job well. He demonstrated that personal devotional time was important and church attendance was essential. Merle was a member of Greenwood Mennonite Church. He also was deeply involved in the support of Greenwood Mennonite School and enjoyed attending events there in which his grandchildren were involved.
Merle is survived by his children: Gene and Sharon Embleton of Harrington, Jay and Kathy Embleton of Greenwood, Jerry and Wendy Embleton of Milford and Sydney Hamilton of Harrington, 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, a brother, Manford Embleton, and two sisters, Dottie Yoder and Thelma Clegg. His wife of 53 years, Inez Ann Embleton, a son-in law, Lyle Hamilton and siblings Paula Embleton, Jay Embleton and infant sister Bertha Embleton predeceased him.
Graveside services will be Sunday, November 22, at 2 pm at Greenwood Mennonite Cemetery, Greenwood, Delaware. A Celebration of Life service will follow at 3 pm at Greenwood Mennonite School, Mennonite School Road, Greenwood, Delaware. Covid-19 protocol will be observed. Online condolences may be sent to www.pippinfuneralhome.com.
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