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Merle Dean Lonnon

May 14, 1933 — August 1, 2022

Merle Dean Lonnon


Merle Dean Lonnon passed away in Boulder, Colorado, on August 1st, 2022. He was 89 years old. Merle was born on Mothers Day, May 14, 1933, on his grandfathers homestead three miles east and two miles south of Ellis, Kansas. Merles loving parents were Inez Isabelle (Louage) Lonnon and John Jennings Lonnon. He was the youngest child in a family of five children. Merle had two sisters, Zoe and June, and two brothers, Gene and John. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Phyllis Ann (Disney) Lonnon, and siblings, Wiley Eugene Lonnon, Zoe Eileen (Lonnon) Moorehouse, and John Louage Lonnon. Merles dear sister, June Isabelle (Lonnon) Loveridge, survives and has been a wonderful comfort to Merle in his later years.

Merle lived an exciting boyhood, helping his parents farm wheat by driving a tractor, and caring for cattle and horses. He attended a one-room country school house, Beaver Bank, before moving onto Main Street in Ellis, Kansas, across from the Methodist Church.

Merle said the most important thing he learned from High School happened accidentally when his brother, John, and a friend gave him a beat-up old Model T car. Merle and his friends worked on five other cars and learned a lot by reading manuals and experimenting. In Merles own words, he had a good time going to high school, getting average grades, and playing basketball.

After high school, Merle joined the Air Force applying as an auto or diesel mechanic but tested with an aptitude for a radar technician. Merle was stationed in Alaska from 1954 to 1956 in the 4th Mobile Squadron. After being discharged from the Air Force, Merle started a military career on the DEW Line as a Crypto-Radician, encoding and deciphering secret messages from U2 spy planes. Merle served two Air Force contracts, but on the flip of a coin, decided to leave the Air Force and go back to college.

Merle started classes at Fort Hays State University and started dating Phyllis Disney that summer. Merle and Phyllis fell in love. Merle said it best himself, "The best part of Phyl was how she made me feel about myself; she had more confidence in me than I did. She would even laugh at my bad jokes." They were married in a small ceremony in the Methodist Church in Ellis, Kansas, with a reception at the Disney home.

Early in his married life, Merle received a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. In 1965, Merle and Phyllis moved to Arden Hills, MN, where Merle started his 30-year career in the computer tech industry at Control Data and later Bit 3 Computer.

Merle and Phyllis started their family of four children on Noble Road and would live there for the rest of their married life together. Merle encouraged his children to be active by playing table tennis and basketball, running cross country, and lifting weights. He spent many hours supporting his childrens activities.

Merle inspired all his children to pursue college degrees in engineering fields. Ardith, Gene, Greg, and Daryl graduated from the University of Minnesota. Many also went on to receive more advanced engineering degrees. Without a doubt, his children had the same aptitude as Merle, but his encouragement and shining example were invaluable.

In 2006, Merle was diagnosed with a Meningioma Brain tumor and underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Merle and Phyllis always felt great gratitude to Dr. Meyer, head of Neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic, who performed the surgery, and the Mayo Clinic for their role in his surgery and recovery. With courage and grace, Merle always confronted his health issues head-on and was rewarded with more than fifteen additional years of productive life.

During their retirement years, Merle and Phyllis enjoyed working on and visiting the Disney family home they owned in Ellis, Kansas. They traveled around the country to visit their growing family, with the addition of eight grandchildren. Ardiths family, including Sam and their children Julia, and Grant, grew up in Colorado. Genes family with Rosanna and their children Matthew, Samantha, Cole, and Paige live in Florida. Greg and Melissa live in Idaho. Daryls family, including Sudha and their children Maya and Ethan, also live in Colorado.

On December 10, 2014, Phyllis passed away at 80 years in St. Paul, Minnesota. Merle remained in Minnesota for almost five years before moving to Colorado a few months before the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. His daughter, Ardith, and son, Daryl, feel fortunate to have shared those final years with their father, Merle.

As both Merle and Phyllis wished, their memorial will be a joint ceremony honoring them both on October 8, 2022, at Mount Hope Cemetery in Ellis, Kansas, at 1:30 PM.

In place of flowers, please consider donating to the Mayo Clinic, in honor of Merle, at

Arrangements in care of Keithley Funeral Chapel 400 E. 17th Ellis, KS 67637.


Graveside Service Saturday

October 8, 2022

1:30 PM

Mt. Hope Cemetery

12 th and Spruce

ellis, KS 67637

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Merle Dean Lonnon, please visit our flower store.


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