University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Remembering R. Bray Mercil

R. Bray MercilR. Bray Mercil, retired Bookstore manager, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 6, at the Valley Eldercare Center in Grand Forks.  He was 92.

Raymond Bray Mercil was born Feb. 21, 1918, in Crookston, Minn., to  Medard Joseph and Heloise (Bray) Mercil. He graduated from Cathedral High School in Crookston, and later attended Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minn., and UND.

Bray showed an early interest in music, and from grade school through college, he played saxophone and clarinet with a variety of traveling jazz and dance bands, including a local stint with vocalist Dolores Egstrom, known later as Peggy Lee.

During WWII, Mercil served with the 737th Engineers Division of the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in September 1946 with the rank of Staff Sergeant. Bray then returned to Crookston, where, together with his father, he owned and operated Ruettel’s Clothing Store. In 1966, he moved with his family to Grand Forks when he became owner of Wilson’s Men’s Shop.

In 1969 Bray and his family re-located to Devil’s Lake, N.D. where he was manager of Shark’s Clothing. They returned to Grand Forks in 1971 when he was hired as manager of the UND Bookstore, from which he retired in 1985.

Throughout his life, Bray was an active volunteer in numerous civic, educational and religious organizations, including his service as chairman of the Crookston Chamber of Commerce; Polk County Disaster chairman during the flood of 1950, and as a board member of St. Anne’s Guest Home in Grand Forks. He was also a lifetime member of the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus.

On May 31, 1948, Bray married Sylvia Louise Marhula of Roosevelt, Minn. She preceded him in death Jan. 4, 1973. On Nov. 30, 1985, he married Willa Mae (Gregoire) Mercil of Crookston. His wife, Willa Mae and his seven children, four stepchildren, twenty-one grandchildren and six great-grandchildren survive him.

Bray’s children are: Mary Louise (Gordon) Tiedeman, Walker, Minn.; Catherine Ann Miller, Devils Lake, N.D.; Steven Bray Mercil, St. Paul, Minn.; Michael John (Ann Hamilton) Mercil, Columbus, Ohio; Richard Allen (Rosa Panzarella) Mercil, Grand Forks, N.D.; Emily Jean Mercil and Margaret Elizabeth Mercil, both of Minneapolis, Minn. His stepchildren are Mary Elizabeth (Craig Govig) Mercil, Maple Grove, Minn.; Gregory Gene (Marjorie Pharis) Mercil, Mentor, Minn.; Thomas Arthur Mercil, Vancouver, Wash.; and Paul Raymond (Joan Thomforde) Mercil, Crookston, Minn.

Bray’s grandchildren are: Christopher (Sara) Tiedeman; Kari (Wade) Demarais; Michelle (Joseph) Goracke; Anne (Nathan) Mugaas; Paul and Patrick Miller; Andrew and Peter Mercil; Emmett Mercil; Kacie and Hayden Mercil; Kirsten Correnti; Sylvie and Willa Mercil; Aaron and Moriah Govig; Anna, Sarah and Ben Mercil; Joshua, Zachary and Ethan Mercil.

Great-grandchildren are Jackson, Cody and Peyton Demarais; Katherine and Allison Goracke and Candence Correnti.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Sylvia; and his sister, Marlys Vaudrin.

Mass of Christian Burial is at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, in St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Grand Forks, N.D.   Burial: Calvary Cemetery, Crookston, Minn., in the spring.

Military Honors: Members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Guard, in the spring.

Memorials: In lieu of flowers memorials are requested to St. Anne’s Guest Home, 524 17th St. N, Grand Forks, ND 58203.

-- Courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald.


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