Merrill Arbuckle Jr., a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend, passed away peacefully on Friday, November 17, 2023, at his home in Three Forks, Montana. He was 81 years old.
He is preceded in death by his sister Michal, his father Merrill Sr. and his mother Hazel. He is survived by his youngest sister, Marny Deborah (Enrique) Barrau Arbuckle; his wife, Becky Ar-buckle; his four daughters, Lori (Jim Evans) Arbuckle, Teri (Jake) Harwood, Heidi (Donald Eva) Arbuckle and Judi "Phatty" Arbuckle; his grandchildren: Riley Harwood, Avery Harwood, Kellen Eva and Aubrey Eva; Becky's children Jesse (Stacey) Thrush and his children Kiera and Karlynn, Tana (Jay) Johnston and their two children, Cody and Maggie.
Born in Urbana, Illinois, in July 1942 to Merrill Arbuckle Sr. and Hazel V. Small, Merrill was a true outdoorsman from an early age. He accompanied his father, Merrill Sr. on hunting & fishing adventures nurturing a deep connection with nature that would shape his life. His father was in the US Air Force and the family lived in many parts of the USA and overseas. Some of Merrill's most cherished memories were from time spent in Puerto Rico as a teenager, where he developed a love for skin diving and earned recognition for his impressive science fair shell collection. After which the family moved to Great Falls, Montana where he graduated high school and he went on to attend Montana State College receiving a bachelor's degree in Zoology. While at MSC, he was on the ski team and volunteered his time to help clear avalanches and prepare trails.
He had a distinguished career in the Army Reserve which included active service at the 6th Ar-my Headquarters at the Presidio in San Francisco during Desert Storm and in Germany during the Bosnian War. He completed his military service at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
A true Montanan at heart, Merrill loved to hunt, fish, ski, ride horses, camp, and spent time with local friends and family. He was a signature figure in Three Forks for over 50 years where he was always willing to lend a helping hand to his neighbors, especially if it involved fixing an automobile. He was a dedicated member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and helped build the Jack Creek Foundation Summer Outdoor Skills kids camp from scratch for nearly 20 years, where he guided hundreds of young campers to become effective bow hunters and dedicated conservationists.
Merrill's zest for life extended to his travels around the world. He shared countless adventures with his wife, Becky, his sister, Debbie, and her family, as well as his daughters. Together, they explored various countries, including Spain, Ecuador, Costa Rica, El Salvador, South Africa, China, Peru, Australia, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, and many Caribbean islands. Merrill was always eager to embrace new experiences and immerse himself in different cultures and environments.
Merrill's legacy lives on in the hearts of all who knew and loved him. He was a kind, generous, and adventurous spirit who touched the lives of countless people. He will be deeply missed.
Merrill will be buried with full military honors in the National Military Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. No services are planned at this time.
Donations may be sent on behalf of Merrill to the Jack Creek Preserve Summer Outdoor Skills Camp at jackcreekpreserve.org or 222 Main Street Suite 1F, Ennis, MT 59729.