We were sad to hear that Tom Merritt passed away earlier this week. Tom was actively involved with Mano a Mano, in many ways and for many years, and he will be missed. Our best wishes are with his wife Sharon, and with their family and friends.

Here is Tom’s obituary in the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

Tom Joined Us On Our New Plane’s First Flight in 2018 (and Made the Video)

In 2018, Mano a Mano purchased a Cessna Caravan to increase the capacity of our aviation program in Bolivia, and the plane we purchased happened to be located here in the Twin Cities. Before our pilots flew to Minnesota to pick up the plane and fly it to Bolivia, we invited Board Members and friends to accompany us to Fleming Field in South St. Paul for a first flight of the plane. Tom Merritt was there, and made this video about the first flight (we had just invited him to be there; he decided to bring a video camera and make a video!):

Tom Was Mano a Mano’s Volunteer of the Year in 2009

In 2009, Tom was our Co-Volunteer of the Year, along with Deb Woodburn. From our 2009 Newsletter:

“Tom started volunteering with Mano a Mano in October 2008, and has become our resident driver, picking up donated medical supplies and equipment from around the Twin Cities on a weekly basis. Thanks Deb, Tom, and all of our volunteers!”

And the connection has continued ever since; Tom and Sharon sent us the following in an email exchange just a few months ago:

“It’s the best charity we support. It is a very satisfying way for us to do our small part to keep Mano thriving.”

Tom (left) with fellow Unity members attending Mano a Mano’s 20th Anniversary Celebration in 2014.

Unity Church & Mano a Mano

Tom was an active volunteer with Mano a Mano and with Unity Church, often at the same time.

Tom, (seated, blue shirt) volunteering with Mano a Mano as part of a Unity Church group in June 2019. At the time we were working on a video project in partnership with TPT highlighting our local volunteers like Tom (photo taken at 1:42 in the video below).

In Memoriam: Tom Merritt, 1944-2020

Below is a note from Unity Church today, in memory of Tom:

“We mourn the death and celebrate the life of Tom Merritt, beloved member of Unity Church. Tom took his last breath surrounded by his beloved wife Sharon and daughters after a three-year journey with cancer. He and Sharon have been steadfast Unity Church members and active leaders in the congregation for 20 years. We will miss his voice in the choir, his smile at the front desk, and his generous presence among any gathering he joined. Memorial service plans are pending.”

Tom and Sharon Merritt, in Bolivia in 2007.