The Ponca City
Ponca City, Oklahoma
December 4, 2000
Vernon Conrad Merrifield, M.D., died early Monday morning, Dec. 4, 2000,
in Ponca City after a lengthy illness.
Dr. Merrifield was born July 2, 1918, in Dill City in Washita County to
Conrad and Ivery Merrifield. The family later moved to Sayre, where Vernon
worked as a shoe shine boy in his father’s barber shop. At age 14,
while working as a delivery boy at the Sayre Rexall, Vernon became acquainted
with Dr. H.K. Speed, and his friendship inspired his interest and desire
to study medicine.
Vernon attended Sayre High School where he played quarterback and was
selected for the All Southwest Conference football team. Will Rogers came
to Sayre to watch him play football. He earned a football scholarship
to the University of Oklahoma and was starting freshman quarterback. After
graduation, Vernon entered the OU College of Medicine and, during his
sophomore year, joined the Army Specialized Training Program for doctors.
He served as an extern during his senior year in medical school, then
as an intern and thereafter as a surgical resident, all at St. Anthony’s
Hospital in Oklahoma City.
On Jan. 18, 1946, he married Wanza N. Barker in Clinton, and in July 1947
they made Ponca City their home. Vernon and the late Dr. John B. Gilbert
established a long-standing partnership and opened the Gilbert-Merrifield
Clinic. They later moved their practices to the Merrifield Doctors Center
built by Vernon and his brother, the late Dr. L.L. Merrifield, where Vernon
practiced until his retirement in 1990.
He was called into military service in 1954 and stationed in Korea. Three
months later, he was re-stationed to the Army hospital in Etta Jima, Japan,
where he served as chief medical officer for 14 months.
Upon his return to Ponca City, he resumed his practice of family medicine
and general surgery. He served as chief of staff for St. Joseph Regional
Medical and is a past president of the AMBUCS. In addition to his passion,
for quail hunting and bass fishing, Vernon was an accomplished golfer.
During his early years in Ponca City, among his most memorable traits
was his genuine care, concern, and affection for the countless patients
he served in his 45 years of practice.
Vernon became a Christian and was baptized on April 20, 1947, and at the
time of his death was a member of the First Baptist Church. He took great
pride and pleasure in attending local sporting events and other activities
where his grandchildren participated.
He is survived by his wife, Wanza; four children, Vernon C. Merrifield
Jr. and wife Elaine, James M. Merrifield and wife Sandy, Janet K. Merrifield
and Lynnie Bailey; nine grandchildren, Lyndsey, Sarah, Chelsea, Shelley,
and Karly Merrifield, Britt and Tyler Boethin, and Jason and Jordan Bailey.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Dr. L.L. Merrifield.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2000, at 1 p.m. in
the First Baptist Church Worship Center with the Rev. Hance Dilbeck, pastor,
officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of the Trout Funeral
Memorials may be made to the Falls Creek Youth Scholarship Fund, in care
of the First Baptist Church, 218 S. Sixth, Ponca City, Okla. 74601.
Family will be at 808 Sugar Maple.
Friends may call at Trout Funeral Home until 9 a.m. Wednesday