Douglas James Merkler, 1956-2024

Douglas James Merkler, a fourth generation Nevadan, died from metastatic small-cell lung cancer on January 17, 2024, in Boulder City, Nevada, with his beloved wife, Lois (Alexander) Merkler, by his side. He was 67 years old.

Douglas Merkler was on born June 22, 1956, in Seattle, Washington to Mary ‘Dakin’ Griswold and George Joseph Merkler.

Doug spent his early years in Seattle, Washington. Because George was a Naval Aviator, his family moved to Meridian, Mississippi, and Coronado, California, before separating and moving to Reno, Nevada in 1966 where Dakin and Gilbert ‘Gib’ Landell III were married. It was Gib, who became Doug’s ‘Pop’, that with Dakin, raised him with love and care alongside his brothers, Chan, and Gordon.

In Reno, he attended local schools, graduating from Reno High School in 1974. It was in Nevada, where he spent time with his family exploring the mountains, the desert, and his mom’s childhood ranch, that he honed his love for, and developed his curiosity of the natural world. He was a gifted athlete and a talented artist who excelled in multi-media, but particularly pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor. He was also a talented musician, playing the flute for many years.

After high school, Doug attended the University of Nevada, Reno graduating in 1979 with a B.S. in Soil Science. After graduation Doug joined the USDA-Soil Conservation Service, now NRCS, where he spent just shy of 39 years before his retirement. There he served in a number of positions, rising to the Resource Soil Scientist for the State of Nevada. Upon his retirement in 2017, he and his wife, Lois, started a business Aerial M2, LLC so that he could continue his love for mapping landscapes, but now with the assistance of drone technology.

During his career he mapped over 2 million acres of soil-plant assemblages across much of Nevada. In 2004 he was awarded the Soil Scientist of the year for USDA; he was extremely proud and humbled to be awarded this national award.  Doug was an active member of the Soil Science Society of America and presented many posters and talks at their annual meetings.  He was a member of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and assisted with a western field trip for the 18th World Congress in 2006.  True to his interdisciplinary interests, Doug was also an active member of the International Biogeography Society (for whom he led field trips for their first meeting in 2003), a member of the Nevada Archaeological Association, and the Nevada Native Plant Society.

Some of Doug’s favorite activities were to be out in the field teaching and mentoring young people.   He participated for many years in Nevada Youth Range Camp where he taught the soil section of their curriculum to 14–18-year-olds from all over the state of Nevada.  He assisted his wife, Lois, with many of her field classes, again teaching them about soil, plants, and maps.  Mostly, he liked to be “out” in his beloved state of Nevada doing astronomy, fly fishing, or talking soils.  He was quite proud to be a Griswold; his mothers’ grandfather, uncle, and father ran a very large sheep ranch in eastern Nevada for many years.   Along with an archaeologist friend, Doug was instrumental in getting the historic Griswold cabins of the southern headquarters of the family’s ranch restored.

Doug is the middle of three brothers. Doug was preceded in death by his father, George Merkler (2006) in League City, Texas, and his Pop, Gilbert Landell (2018) in East Quoque, New York.  He is survived by his mother, Mary Dakin Griswold-Landell of Westhampton, New York; his wife, Lois (Alexander) Merkler, of Boulder City, Nevada; brother, Chan Griswold of Reno, Nevada; brother, Gordon Griswold (wife, Sara Rose Capp) of East Quoque, New York; and his stepbrother, Gilbert Landell IV.  Also surviving are 6 nieces and numerous cousins.

Editor’s Note:  Doug Merkler was a cousin of GFA Genealogist, Coralee Griswold.  Doug was behind the sketch of Griswold Lake in Nevada that was printed on back of the t-shirts from the Western Heritage Tour.  Shown at right  is his sketch of Griswold Lake and a photo of Doug wearing the t-shirt that he helped design.