Merlin James Foote entered this world on January 14, 1939, born to Virgil and Merna (Carpenter) Foote in Runnells, IA. He grew up in the Des Moines area, the second oldest of five siblings. He acquired his strong work ethic at an early age from long hours working alongside his father and younger brother on the family's farms. He completed school through the 11th grade and then earned his GED while serving his country in the Navy. Upon discharge from the service, Merlin returned to Iowa to continue farming. His son Mark was born in 1959 during his marriage to Mary Lou (Bean) Foote. In 1967 the Foote family moved to Brooten, MN, where he continued to farm. In 1974 his daughter Kelly was born during his marriage to Catherine (Jorgenson) Foote, with Cathy's son David and daughter Sheri also becoming an integral part of Merlin's life. The union with Cathy eventually ended and a few years later he was united in marriage to Mary (Unger) Foote for four years. Garfield, Little Falls, Glenwood, Alexandria and Miltona were other places besides Brooten that he also called home while living in Minnesota.
In 1990 he moved to Pocatello, ID, to be closer to his teenaged daughter. That move turned out to be a good decision in more ways than one when he discovered all that Idaho had to offer. A lifelong horseman, Merlin was known for having a good eye for a horse and almost everyone in the territory during his time in Minnesota had a horse that he had either raised, trained, gamed, showed, traded or sold. Now out West, Merlin spent countless hours in the saddle exploring the back country of Idaho's mountains with Terry and the close friends they gained along the way. Cow camp and hunting camp in the fall were his favorite time of year. Along with riding, he was often found driving his team and wagon around the Inkom countryside, gathering up anyone who was brave enough to jump on for the ride. Driving was a passion he had developed and pursued with his friends while still living in Minnesota, and he shared that love with his Idaho buddies by getting their horses broke to drive and teaching them everything he knew about driving. And yes, wrecks were included, free of charge! In later years, as creaky joints crept up on him, he turned his four-legged friends out to pasture and four-wheelers became a new source of enjoyment for he and his friends.
Merlin was an extremely hard worker throughout his entire life. Not only was he a dairy, crop and livestock farmer in his younger years, he also drove semi-truck for a time before he began selling insurance and eventually built one of the most successful insurance agencies in the Upper Midwest during the 1970's and early 80's. After moving to Idaho, he went back to long-haul truck driving and in 2002 started his own trucking company with Terry. He drove as an owner/operator for over ten years before deciding to simplify his life and work for another company. He continued to be a safe, reliable and dependable professional driver until the age of 79, when a heart issue forced his retirement. In the two years following open-heart surgery, he fought mounting health issues with sheer grit and determination.
On Wednesday afternoon, September 9, 2020, Merlin peacefully passed from this life with his beloved daughter and devoted wife by his side. Welcoming him home were his parents Virgil and Merna, sisters JoAnn and Donna, infant sister Betty, and infant son Merrill.
Left behind to mourn and hold dear his memory are his partner, wife and best friend of 30 years Terry (Olson) Lewis Foote, Pocatello, ID; son Mark Foote, Des Moines, IA; daughter Kelly (Ryan) West, Burns, OR, and granddaughters Hailey West, Los Angeles, CA, and Oakley West, Albany, OR; brother Garlan (Judy) Foote, Greenwood, AR; sister Arlis (Jerry) Fettig, Glenwood, MN; brother-in-law Frank Landon, Evart, MI; nephews and nieces Doug (Tina) Miller, Doyle (Angela) Miller, Darrin (Eva) Miller, Gaylan (Lisa) Foote, Jody (Eric) Burris, Galvin (Teresa) Foote, Merna Broberg, Alisa (Rich) Jadeke, Jessica (Jared) Fettig; step-son David Paulson; step-daughter Sheri (Kim) Hartman and sons Derek (Taylor), Nathan (Shayla), and their families; and many extended family members. Also saddened by his loss are Terry's two sons; parents, Lynn and Bonnie Olson; brother, Jerry; sister, Lisa and their families.
Merlin, better known as Merle to his friends, will be remembered for his generous, fun-loving nature and as a true friend to many. Hard worker that he was, he played even harder and there was no lack of fun and shenanigans with Merle around. With beer in hand and mischief in mind, he never missed a chance to pull a prank on some unsuspecting victim, and he usually had help from one or more of that cast of colorful characters (you know who you are!) that he considered his friends. He will forever be remembered by his family as that loveable, always entertaining uncle, a wise and understanding brother that could always be relied on unconditionally for advice and support, a tender-hearted doting "Papa Daddy" to his granddaughters, and a protective, caring Dad who deeply loved his son and daughter. Happy trails, my Dear. I love you now and will love you forever.
A Celebration of Life gathering for all of Merle's Idaho friends and family will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2020 from 1:00-5:00pm at the Skyline Park pavilion, 189 Park St, Inkom, ID 83245
The following week, our consummate professional long-haul truck driver is going to hit the open road for one final cross-country run. There will be Celebration of Life stops in Arkansas, Iowa, and Minnesota for Merlin's family and friends. The location, date, and time for each of those gatherings will be made available as the arrangements are finalized.
Arkansas Celebration of Life gathering will be on Saturday, October 3, 2020 from 2:00-5:00pm at the Gaylan Foote residence, 3600 W Hwy 10, Greenwood, AR 72936
Iowa Celebration of Life gathering will be on Sunday, October 18, 2020 from 2:00-5:00pm at the Dave Denny residence, 8066 Crestview Dr, Des Moines, IA 50320
Minnesota Celebration of Life gathering will be held the weekend of October 24-25, 2020 in Glenwood, MN. The exact date, time and location will be made available once arrangements are finalized.
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