Merrill F. Collier

Merrill Collier was without question our class leader.  He came to the Academy following three years in the fleet.  Merrill was, and always will be our Class President, served two sets as Brigade Commander, and received three prestigious awards at graduation for his officer-like qualities.


He served on the destroyers J. C. OWENS and FARRAGUT before volunteering for submarines.  He reported aboard USS THRESHER shortly before that ship sailed on her last voyage, and was lost when THRESHER tragically went down on 10 April 1963.  Merrill’s wife Helen has stayed close to his ’56 classmates, and expects to join us for the 50th.  She also graciously participates every year during the Commissioning Week Prizes and Awards Ceremony, by presenting the Merrill F. Collier Award to the member of the graduating class who achieves the highest marks on the Professional Competency Review.  Her letter that follows describes Merrill’s legacy:

“Since the 40th reunion, there have been lots of changes in our family. I completed the doctorate at Teachers College Columbia, retired from the principalship, and now teach at Princeton University in their Teacher Preparation Program. Our children, Sherrill, Neal and Merrill, have their own families with nine wonderful grandchildren, who are the joy of my life! Sherrill and husband, Michael DeGenova, teach in Flemington, NJ where Sherrill is a speech therapist and Michael is a special education teacher. Their oldest daughter, Dorothy (17) plays the flute in the orchestra, paints, acts, and plans to enter college in the Fall. Therese (14), a freshman, loves softball and the violin. John (10) likes to draw, and Maria (7) is an artistic second-grader. Neal Collier and his wife, Carol, live in Trappe, PA where Neal is a Manager with Barry‑Wehmiller Design Group, and Carol is a computer network specialist, working with companies in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC. Benjamin (17) will enter college in the Fall to study film, Katherine (12) plays soccer and enjoys acting. William (9) is in fourth grade, plays soccer and is active in Cub Scouts. Merrill Collier (II), his wife Kristine, and their children Gregory (6) and Jennifer (4) recently made the big move to Santa Rosa, California. Merrill took a position as international marketing manager for Medtronic, where he recently assisted in the European launch of a new drug-eluting coronary stent, and his wife Kristine is District Sales Manager for Allied Domecq Wines.”