James Robert Merritt, Bob, of Kernersville passed away on June 29, 2020, at his home. He was 89 years old. Bob was in excellent health until just recently, after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He was born on September 17, 1930, to Robert Lee Merritt and Delia James Merritt in King, NC. He was one of nine children. When he was just eleven years old, Bob lost his left eye while playing with one of his brothers. He overcame a great many obstacles due to this injury. He was an avid reader, historian, golfer, bookkeeper, and coin collector. He graduated from Kernersville High school in 1949, where he had the forethought to take typing classes. Because of this, he was offered a job in bookkeeping immediately following high school. His family often referred to him as the “numbers man” due to his excellent arithmetic aptitude. He worked for Vance Hosiery Mill, Young Blood Trucking and spent the majority of his career as the dock supervisor for Pilot Freight Carriers. When Pilot Freight dissolved, Bob and his wife Audrey, bought and ran Merritt’s Grocery-a three pump gas station that sat on the corner of highway 150 and County Line Road. Bob was notably one of the funniest people you would ever encounter. He was quick witted and never lacked for a good anecdote. He was almost always the most interesting person in the room. To know Bob was to know a summer day well spent snapping green beans from the biggest garden in Guilford County. Lying in a hammock, watching the sunset, and speaking of days gone by was the best kind of evening for him. Though unable to attend in his later years, Bob was a long-time member and served as a Sunday School teacher and deacon at Union Grove Baptist Church where he also coached the softball team for many years. He also participated in numerous golf tournaments, winning most of them. One could usually hear Bob before seeing him due to his exquisite whistling. It's been said that while he was plowing his garden, you could hear his whistle a mile away. For his sake, we hope that Heaven has a golf course that he not only gets to play on but also mow. Bob was most affectionately referred to as papaw, by his most beloved grandchildren and great grandchildren. He taught them all how to dribble a basketball, hit a baseball, swing a golf club and mow a yard. Papaw shared his love of nature and animals with them. He also taught them that all dogs indeed, go to heaven. The Braves have lost one of their biggest fans, as did Nascar, the UNC Tarheels and country music. He loved nothing more than a good George Jones, Vern Gosdin, or Merle Haggard song. His mischievous grin, the smell of his tobacco and his clever understated charm will be sorely missed. One could search the world over and not find a man as unique, as talented or as wise as Bob Merritt. He was predeceased by his parents, 7 brothers and sisters, and his first wife Mary Lou. He is survived by his wife Audrey Merritt of the home, a daughter Cindy Stacy of Kernersville, a son Michael (Christel) Merritt of Spruce Pine, NC and a sister Brenda Willard of Winston-Salem. He also leaves behind two granddaughters, Laura (Wesley) Lemons of Kernersville and Luci (Jason) Milam of Kernersville, as well as 6 great grandchildren: Lillie Marie Lemons, Jackson Lee Milam, Leslie Lou Lemons, Piper Noelle Milam, Greenlee Quinn Milam and Weston James Vance Lemons. The family wishes to thank the providers and staff at Novant Health Salem Family Medicine for the excellent care given him over many years. They also wish to thank his very special grandsons-in-law Wesley Lemons and Jason Milam, his step-daughters Anne Shropshire and Cathy Hill, his sister-in-law Frances Duggins, and nephew Sammy Cain for all the many ways they helped to care for Bob. There will be a graveside service at Union Grove Baptist Church on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, at 10 am with Rev. Dick Pridgen officiating. Hayworth-Miller Kernersville Chapel is assisting the family.
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