Funeral Mass for Merle C. Escher, age 96, of Graceville, Minnesota formerly of Dumont, Minnesota will be held Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at Ave Maria Catholic Church in Wheaton with Fr. Stanley Weiser and Fr. Joe Vandeberg Celebrants. Organist will be Cindy Sanasack with special music provided by the Ave Maria Church Choir. Honorary urn bearers will be: Harry Fischer, Joe Fischer, Sylvester Fischer, Joe "Josey" Fridgen, Gene Fridgen, Pete Schaffer and Glen Hervert. Visitation will be held Friday evening, August 1, 2014 with a rosary beginning at 4:30 p.m. at the church. Visitation will continue from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. with a 7:00 p.m. Prayer Service and Time of Sharing at the church. Visitation will continue Saturday morning one hour prior to service time at the church. Inurnment will be in St. Peter's Catholic Cemetery, rural Dumont. Merle Charles Escher was born on February 18, 1918 on the home farm in Croke Township, Traverse County, Minnesota to Anthony and Albina "Libby" (Yansky) Escher. He received his education from St. Peter's Catholic School in Dumont, MN through the 8th grade. Like most boys of that time he was needed at home to help farm, and there was little encouragement to attend high school. However, he credits the school for the immeasurable values that helped him become the man he was. While Merle would have enjoyed the athletics that came with high school, he was always happy with the life he chose. "Land and livestock was what I truly loved; it kept me close to God," he would say. In 1945 he purchased the family farm from his parents. Merle married Rita Wieser on September 25, 1946 at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Dumont. To this union seven children were born. Merle passed away on July 23, 2014 at Grace Home in Graceville, Minnesota at the age of 96 years, 5 months and 2 days. Merle was a lifelong member of the St. Peter and St. Patrick Catholic parishes until their closure and then a member of Ave Maria Parish in Wheaton, MN. He enjoyed baseball in his younger days and often talked about it. He loved to sing and this was an important activity with family, friends and church. He also loved to play cards, go fishing, and visit with people. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren were very special to him. Merle and Rita lived on the home farm place southwest of Dumont until retiring in 1975. They then moved into Dumont. They enjoyed bowling and attending dances at the hall in Dumont for fun. In his later years, Merle and Rita enjoyed their lake home on Silver Lake near Battle Lake, MN. They also enjoyed their many travels around the country. Merle served on the Dumont City Council before being elected to the Traverse County Board of Commissioners where he proudly served two-4 year terms. He was on the township board for 22 years. Merle is survived by his wife, Rita, of 67 years, 7 children, Anthony (Sue) Escher of Mishawka, IN, Ronald (Tami) Escher of Dumont, MN, Dwayne Escher of Garden City, MN , Mary (Patrick) Needham of Graceville, MN, Michael (Merry Jo) Escher of Sioux Falls, SD, Cheryl (Steven) Hintz of Campbellsport, WI and Cathleen (Leslie) Skorupski of Milwaukee, WI; 23 grandchildren, 32 great-children; one sibling Alice Kane of Hemet, California, and many nieces, nephews and extended family. Merle was preceded in death by his parents, his two sisters Wilma and Fern, one brother Clarence and daughter-in-law, Jeri Escher. Rest in peace and blessed be the memory of Merle Escher. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred.