Merwyn Davidson, age 85, of Aurora, passed away on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at Lincoln.
A Memorial Service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 26 at the United Methodist Church in Aurora. Revs. Greg Reed, Michelle Reed and Lonnie Ott will officiate. Inurnment will be prior to the church service at 10 a.m. at the Aurora Cemetery. No Visitation. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Love Justice International for the support of Kevin and Sally Bolis missionary work. Higby-McQuiston Mortuary is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be e-mailed to the family through the mortuary website at www.higbymortuary.com.
Merwyn Floyd Davidson was born at his grandparent’s home on Dec. 18, 1933. His parents were Howard and Lauretia (Young) Davidson. Merwyn died on Jan. 18, 2019 in Lincoln, at the age of 85. He moved from Adams to Filley and then to Omaha. When he was ten years old the family moved to a turkey farm east of Lincoln where they raised turkeys, chicken and livestock.
He attended Lincoln Northeast High School, serving as President of Future Farmers of America becoming a Nebraska State Farmer and State Vice-President his senior year. Following graduation from high school he attended the University of Nebraska. He was Pledge Trainer and Business Manager of FarmHouse Fraternity, a member of two scholastic honoraries, Alpha Zeta and Gamma Sigma Delta, and many other organizations. He graduated in 1955 “With Distinction” and a degree in teaching Vocational Agriculture.
On June 17, 1956 he married Betty Lou Eberhart and moved to Milford. They united with the Evangelical United Brethren Church and Merwyn was baptized. He taught Agronomy at the University of Nebraska and completed a Master of Science degree in 1957. Then he enrolled at Evangelical Theological Seminary at Naperville, Illinois and during those three years served as Class President, a member of the Student Council and the President’s Council. He served as an intern at the Rock County churches (Rose, Sybrant, and Duff) near Bassett and the Wheatland EUB Church near Naperville, Illinois. After graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1960 he was ordained as a pastor and served the church at Culbertson for two years.
Merwyn and Betty along with their three children, Lila, Wayne and Mark went to Japan as missionaries, teaching three years at The Rural Institute near Tokyo to train persons from Asia. After a year at The Rural Center near Kobe he went to Hokkaido Island at an agricultural college (Rakuno College) to teach Bible classes for three years. Two children, Carol and Karen, were born while in Japan. He received the S.T.M. (Systematic Theology of Master Degree) from Dubuque Theological Seminary in 1966.
In 1970, after eight years as missionaries in Japan, Merwyn served the United Methodist Church in Aurora to serve as pastor for seven years. Sharon was born while at Aurora. In 1977 Merwyn was assigned as Senior Pastor to McCook United Methodist Church. During the twelve years at McCook he was a member of the Rotary Club, President of the McCook School Board, YMCA board member, Camping Committee, President of the Ministerial Association, Nebraska United Methodist Conference Council on Finance and Administration and a member of the Conference Board of Ordained ministry. He completed his Doctor of Ministry degree in 1982 and received the Denman Award from the National United Methodist Church office for his work with the members of the local church to involve new persons in the church. He had a deep interest in reaching out to all persons to lead them to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
In 1989 he was appointed to the Milford United Methodist Church serving as a member of the Riverside Camp Board and President of the Milford Chamber of Commerce. After serving the Olive Crest United Methodist Church he retired to Aurora in June 1995 after 37 years of ministry.
He was instrumental in starting the Cellar Youth Center and received the Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award in 1996 for that effort. In 1999 a movie theatre, 12th Street Cinema, was opened and he became the manager. Merwyn and Betty received the 1999 Community Service Award from the Chamber of Commerce for that effort. He also helped organize a drama group and helped secure equipment for the Aurora Skate Park for roller blading and skateboarding. He was a past member of the Lions Club and Optimist Club, taught Bible classes for youth at the Youth Center, helped with youth at the Aurora United Methodist Church, tutored and assisted at the Aurora Middle School for 20 years (as of 2014-15 school year). In 2001 the youth of Aurora presented Merwyn and Betty with a gift for a cruise and a plaque for “outstanding service to area youth”. In 2002 Merwyn and Betty were the Grand Marshalls for the A’ROR’N days parade. The Governor presented Merwyn and Betty as “Members of the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska” for their volunteer work. In 2005 the Governor presented Merwyn with the “Points of Light” and President Bush gave the “Points of Light” national award for volunteer work with youth. Merwyn worked with the Junior Optimist Club to plan and install the Frisbie Golf Course near the Skate Park. After 12 years in December, 2007 he retired from serving as director of the Youth Center and 12th Street Cinema.
Merwyn’s testimony of his Christian life: “Our family did not attend church, but as a youth sometimes people would invite me to attend camp or Sunday School. In college, many persons influenced my life. Charles Harris was a classmate and he talked a lot about Christ and was killed in a visit to Israel when we were seniors. Betty also influenced my life with her faith and convictions. When I was given a teaching assistantship to continue with an advanced degree I spent lots of time with the students I taught and also planning research projects with soybeans for more extended use in Nebraska. Through the contrast of working with soybeans and teaching students God worked in my life to show me that God was calling me to prepare to be a pastor. Down through the years I have really wanted to share with young people and persons of all ages the need to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and live their lives in service to God.”
Merwyn’s mother and father preceded him in death.
Merwyn is survived by his wife, Betty of Aurora; six children, Lila (Curt) Wolff of Aurora, Wayne (Beth) Davidson of Leesburg, Virginia, Mark (Cynthia) Davidson of Leawood, Kansas, Carol (Darin) Jones of Modesto, California, Karen (Bryan) Bush of Elkhorn and Sharon (Corey) Harthoorn of Norfolk; grandchildren, Sara (Dane) Sutherland, Sam (Amy)Wolff, Sally (Kevin) Bolis, Joel and Chad Davidson, Heather (Matt) Nemcic, Andrea Davidson, Craig and Stacy Jones, Kiersey and Cameron Bush, Kaitlin, Breanna, Caleb and Annika Harthoorn; great-grandchildren, Olivia and Carter Nemcic, Pierson and Paxton Wolff, Elle, Gavin and Ty Sutherland, Jay and Emmet Bolis; sister, Marolyn (Elbert) Marshall and many nieces and nephews and other family members and friends.