Fred Merg

Obituary of Fred Merg

Frederick Robert Merg died on December 18th, 2023 in a room lit by the sunset and surrounded by his wife and three children. It was the conclusion of what he called “a great life” that began on July 13th, 1930 in Kenosha, Wisconsin during the first year of the Great Depression. Born to German immigrants, Paula Mathilda Merg nee Haubrich and Friedrich “Fritz” Merg, he spoke German at home before learning English in kindergarten. His father remained employed throughout the Depression, and was able to build a new home on the outskirts of Kenosha allowing his parents to realize their dream of owning land; Fred inherited that dream.


After high school, Fred left home with a friend in a Model A Ford for a trip that he would recall for the rest of his life. The boys exhausted their savings in California, got jobs in a sawmill and slept in peach orchards. They panned for gold, visited Yosemite Falls, and relied on the generosity of strangers, one of whom re-machined the Ford’s generator in Coeur d’Alene, ID.


Upon returning to Kenosha Fred worked for American Motors while taking college courses. He suffered an accident there and lost the middle finger of his left hand for which he received an insurance payment of $1000. He vowed to find a career outside a factory and soon received a draft notice for military service as the United States entered the Korean War. Fred volunteered for the Marine Corps, which trained him as a radio repair technician and kept him in the United States.

Fred used his GI Bill benefits to attend the University of Wisconsin and then Marquette dental school. He met his final year’s expense for dental school with his insurance settlement from American Motors. After graduation, Fred practiced general dentistry in Beloit, WI where he realized he wanted additional professional training.  On October 24th, 1964, he married Dona Anderson, and they moved to Chicago, where Fred earned his orthodontic degree in 1967. They then moved to Madison, WI where he practiced until 1989.

In 1968 Fred and Dona bought a farm near Deerfield, WI where they raised their three children. Fred worked as an orthodontist during the weeks and as a farmer on the weekends. Sometimes he was heard to muse while building fences that “wires and pliers” were the core of his livelihood whether on the farm, or in the mouths of his orthodontic patients. Fred retired from orthodontics in 1989 and occupied himself with his projects on the farm where he was always accompanied by a dog. Some of those dogs are buried on a hilltop on the farm, where his ashes will be returned to the soil - just as Fred wished.

Fred is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dona Merg, and by his children Kurt, Anders, and Kathryn.  A Celebration of Life reception for Fred will be held on July 14th, 2024 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at the farm outside Deerfield, WI. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider giving to charitable causes supporting efforts that were important to Fred. These include:

Cambridge Tree Project


The Prairie Enthusiasts



Rainbow Community Care



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A Memorial Tree was planted for Fred
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Nitardy Funeral Home - Cambridge
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