Albert Joseph Merlino July 24, 1921 - October 13, 2016 Al Merlino, beloved brother, uncle and friend, passed away quietly at his favorite place on earth, atop Grand Mesa, on October 13, 2016. He will be remembered for his gentle spirit, his commitment to community service, and his enduring love of family, friends and the great outdoors. Al, the fourth of seven children, was born to Joseph and Carmella Merlino on July 24, 1921, in Canon City, Colorado. The family moved to Palisade in 1932 where Al attended school excelling in baseball, basketball and football. After graduating in 1939, Al served as a gunnery mate aboard a minesweeper, the USS Caravan, which received citations for assisting in securing atolls in the Marshall Islands. Al was awarded the Good Conduct, American Theatre, Asiatic-Pacific and Victory ribbons. He also served aboard the USS Garard which brought troops home from the Philippines. In 1948, Al married the great love of his life, Marion Bertram, who preceded him in death in 2009. The two were soulmates often seen around Palisade holding hands like newlyweds, which in their hearts, they always were. Al and Marion doted on their many nieces, nephews and neighbor children who each cherish memories of their support and encouragement. Al began his career in 1946 with the Colorado Department of Agriculture at the Palisade Insectary. He served in various capacities becoming an entomologist and retiring from there as supervisor in 1984. During Al's tenure, the insectary became internationally known for its work with beneficial insects which greatly impacted farming in Colorado and beyond. Al served as Palisade's mayor for ten years. In addition, he was a member of the Fire Department for over 30 years, and of Palisade's American Legion Post #50. Al's many offices and awards included: Executive Officer and President of the Colorado Firemen's Association and the Western Valley's Firemen's Association, Palisade Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award, Governor's Employee of the month, Denver Federal Executive Board's Distinguished Service Award, Life Member of Grand Junction Elks' Lodge #575, Denver Post's "Gallery of Fame," and Colorado General Assembly's recognition for accomplishments and dedication to State service. Al loved sports. In 1947, he played with L. Cook's Grand Junction Western Slope Championship Team and was recognized as an All District Semi-Pro Baseball Selection by the National Baseball Congress. An avid outdoorsman, Al was an excellent fly fisherman who enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others. In the 1950's Al realized his boyhood dream of having a cabin on Grand Mesa where he and Marion spent many glorious days. Preceding Al in death were his beloved wife, Marion; his parents; brothers, John, Edward, and Jerry Merlino; sister, Helene Longfellow, and many dear fishing buddies and great friends. He is survived by his sisters, Ann Mendicelli and Margaret Coe of Grand Junction; numerous nieces and nephews, and many friends who will miss him greatly.
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