Cover photo for Merlin Andrew Volla's Obituary
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1925 Merlin 2008

Merlin Andrew Volla

December 26, 1925 — January 7, 2008

Merlin Andrew Volla, 82, of Clifford, passed away Monday, January 7, 2008, at Union Hospital in Mayville. Merlin Andrew Volla, the son of Henry and Ruth (Mitchell) Volla, was born December 26, 1925, in the farm home near South Heart, ND. He lived in the Daglum community during the Depression years until his family relocated to Blanchard in 1938. Merlin attended country schools in Daglum and Blanchard. During World War II, Merlin and his sister, Joyce, enlisted in the U.S. Navy. They were distinguished as the only brother/sister team in the Navy. Merlin served from 1943-1946 in the Southwest Pacific, receiving an honorable discharge in 1946. Following the war, Merlin and his brother, Wayne, worked in potato fields in the Red River Valley, in lead and silver mines in Idaho, and on the construction of the Carl Ben Eielson Airfield near Fairbanks, Alaska. In 1949, Merlin and Wayne returned to North Dakota, where they purchased a farm near Clifford. Merlin resided there for the rest of his life, farming in partnership with Wayne and, for the past 25 years, also with his nephew Steve. Merlin never married, but was well known for his love of children and cats, gardening, starting flowers, and playing pinochle. He loved his nieces and nephews as though they were his own children. His pumpkin patch was filled with pumpkins carved with the names of children of friends and relatives. He also enjoyed sending unusual-shaped and giant vegetables to school with neighborhood children for show-and-tell. The women of the church in Clifford and in Valley City were always grateful for Merlin’s generous donations of garden produce, beef jerky, caramels, and apple crisp. He also enjoyed tallying the totals his gifts had brought to the church. Merlin believed in the bartering system, trading his garden produce for his favorite flatbread, lefse, and pies. Women were “commissioned” to make beet pickles and jams that he would give away to friends and family. Having grown up during the Depression when food was scarce, Merlin loved having a huge garden and then sharing his abundant produce with charities, neighbors, and family. Merlin’s “green thumb” in starting flowers was also appreciated by many. He started annuals and perennials each spring for about 40 years for family, friends, and the Red Willow Bible Camp. Merlin was a progressive farmer, introducing the use of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer to the area. He applied a large “X” of anhydrous in the neighbor’s fields, surprising them later with the results as the corn and wheat grew. Soon all were convinced of the benefits! Merlin served on the church council as treasurer for many years. He was a board member and chairman of the Clifford Development Corporation. In recent years, he enjoyed playing pinochle with friends and family. Merlin was a quiet-mannered man with a generous heart and a positive outlook on life. He is survived by his sister, Joyce Lunde of Fargo; brother, Wayne (Beverly) Volla of Clifford; nieces and nephews, Sterling (Barb) Volla of Moorhead, Steve (Tammy) Volla of Mayville, Donalee (Kirby) Josephson of Redwood Falls, MN, Laurie (Jeff) Riley of Wenatchee, WA, Cheryl Lunde (Roger Ginn) of Raymond, ME, JoAnn (Rob) Johnson of Fargo, Mary (Charles) Tribbey of Avon, CO, and Janell Lunde of Fargo; and 11 great-nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents and brother, Kenneth. FUNERAL SERVICE: Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 10:30 AM at Norman Lutheran Church in Clifford, ND. VISITATION: Friday from 6-8 PM, with a prayer service at 7:00 PM, at Baker Funeral Home in Mayville, and one hour prior to the funeral service at the church. BURIAL: Clifford Cemetery, Clifford, ND.
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