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Chester County Press

Obituaries for the week of Oct. 10

10/11/2016 09:09AM ● By J. Chambless


John C. Merges, Jr., devoted husband of Fay Merges of Oxford, passed away on Oct. 2.

He is survived by his wife; two sisters, Florence of Arizona and Helen of Florida; three children, Valarie of Layton, Utah, Tracy and wife Barb of Avondale, and Kirk and wife Michelle, and their two children, Aiden and Seth, of Oxford.

John served two years in the U.S. Army on the island of Okinawa towards the end of the Korean War. He received a BA in chemistry from Penn State University and a masters degree in science from the University of Delaware. He worked on the Surveyor spacecraft solid rocket propellant while working as a chemist for Morton Thiokol. He changed jobs and worked as a research and development chemist and lube oil salesman for Sun Oil. He later worked as a plastics engineer for Brandywine Compounding and Smurfit Packaging.

John enjoyed cooking, orchids, flowers, gardening, antique farm machinery, and serving as the Ware Presbyterian Village Independent Living Residents treasurer and employee appreciation fund administrator. He was a devoted father and grandfather who was very proud to see his daughter travel the world, and to see his sons, daughter-in-law and grandsons volunteering at the Rough and Tumble Historical Association.

A memorial service with light refreshments will be held on Oct. 29 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Huntsworth room at the Presbyterian Village Oxford Health Center (7 East Locust St., Oxford). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ware Presbyterian Village employee fund. Please make the check payable to: WPV-PRESBYTERIAN RESIDENCE COUNCIL-EAF and mail to Ware Presbyterian Village, 7 E. Locust St., Oxford, PA 19363.


Nancy Watson, 69, of Millsboro, Del., passed away on Oct. 4 at the Delaware Hospice Center.

She was the wife of Robert S. Watson, with whom she celebrated 50 years of marriage this past August. Born in West Chester, she was the daughter of the late Russell Howell and Thelma Howell. Nancy was a U.S. postal employee for over 30 years. She retired as a postmaster from the Cochranville post office in 2002. Nancy enjoyed spending her time with family and friends, many of whom she eventually pulled into card games or bingo. She was a member of the Red Hats, Lovely Luscious Ladies, bingo, and the Cheers Senior Center.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her mother, Thelma Howell of Oxford; her two brothers, Russell Howell and his wife Wilma of East Petersburg, and Danny Howell and his wife Linda of Oxford; her daughter, Donna Atherton and husband David of West Linn, Ore.; and her son, Robert J. Watson and his wife Jennifer of Atglen; four grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her father, Russell Howell; and her brother, Fred Howell.

A funeral was held Oct. 11. Burial was at Faggs Manor Cemetery in Cochranville. In lieu of flowers, a contribution to the Delaware Hospice Center would be appreciated. Contributions may be made online at, or mailed to Delaware Hospice, ℅ Memorial Gifts,16 Polly Drummond Center, 2nd Floor, Newark, DE 19711. Online condolences may be made by visiting


Arthur Francis Burk, 76, died on Oct. 5 at the Brackenville Center after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

He leaves his cherished wife of 25 years, Gail (Abby) Burk; his seven children, Matthew, Andrew (Anne Marie), Joanne (David), Richard (Jamie), Andrew, James (Heather) and Annemarie; and his eight grandchildren, Sean, Jacob, Megan, Garrett, Colin, Brendan, Braedan and Maxwell. Also surviving is his sister, Janice McDuffie (Harold). Arthur was predeceased by his parents, Elsie and Arthur (Flash) Burk; and his beloved first wife, Carol Collins.

Art received his bachelors’ degree in chemical engineering from Drexel University. He began his industrial career with DuPont at their Deepwater, N.J., facility. He worked on the safe handling of toxics, flammables and combustibles and thermally unstable materials. In total, his career with DuPont spanned 37 years, during which he served in a wide range of technical, project and manufacturing, and process safety assignments.

In 1985, Art joined DuPont’s Corporate Safety and Occupational Health Division. He developed standards and guidance in the safe handling and use of hazardous material. In the course of this job he worked with many organizations including Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Chemistry Council, State of New Jersey, State of Delaware and State of West Virginia.

Art and Abby own a home in Sea Isle City, N.J., and loved hosting family and friends at the shore. His family will most remember the many hours spent around the crowded dinner table, where laughter always seemed to be the main course. Art was a lover of surf fishing, and he was always excited to go out fishing and was a great teacher to his children and grandchildren. Art loved sports, especially the Philadelphia Eagles, college basketball and NASCAR racing (#24).

The family would like to thank the staff at the Brackenville Centre for their loving care while Art was with them. A memorial mass was held Oct. 10 at St. Patrick Church in Kennett Square. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Institute,1100 Fairview Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109. Online condolences may be made by visiting


Marie C. Burge, 92, passed away on Oct. 5 at her home in Jenner’s Pond, in West Grove, after a long illness.

She was born Marie Cecilia Fasone in 1924 in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was the sole daughter of an Italian immigrant family. She was the first in her family to attend college, but her education was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, when she went to work for the New York Herald Tribune. She worked for the Herald Tribune for the war’s duration. She married her husband, the late Edward Charles Burge, on June 8, 1946, who predeceased her by 18 years. The couple moved to Delaware County in 1961, where they raised their three boys, Edward, Michael and Kenneth.

Marie is survived by her three sons, and by daughters-in-law Linda Burge, Kathleen Burge, and Thérèse Burge; by her grandchildren, Erek Burge and his wife Carol Long Burge; Leah Delventhal and her husband Paul Delventhal; Juliet, Kaitlin, Russell, Andrew and Daniel Burge; by great-grandchildren Jeanne and Nathan Burge; and by numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Marie was a devoted mother and grandmother and loved traveling. She was also highly skilled at knitting, and volunteered countless hours making caps for cancer patients, which she donated.

A funeral was held Oct. 10. Burial will be at 10 a.m. Oct. 12 at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery (2465 Chesapeake City Road, Bear, Del.). Online condolence may be made by visiting


Patricia Ransom Smith, 88, of Kennett Square, died on Oct. 5 at the Crosslands Retirement Community in Kennett Square.

She was the wife of the late Frederick R. Smith, Jr., who died in 2013, and with whom she shared 64 years of marriage. Born in Jersey City, N.J., she was the daughter of the late William and the late Evelyn (O'Connor) Ransom. Patricia was a 1949 graduate of Bryn Mawr College. She worked as a paralegal for many years with firms in New Rochelle and White Plains, N.Y. She attended Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Chester for the past three years. Patricia enjoyed golf, tennis and gardening, and was an accomplished pianist.

Survivors include one son, Cameron Smith of New Brunswick, N.J.; two daughters, Wendy Smith and her husband Phillip of Media, and Jenny Linck (Dana) of Olney, Md.; her daughter-in-law, Jackie Smith; four grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by one brother, Frederick "Ricky" Smith III; and one grandchild.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the William Penn Room of Crosslands Community (1660 E. Street Rd., Kennett Square). Interment will be held privately. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 399 Market St., Suite 102, Philadelphia, PA 19106. To view her online tribute and to share a memory with her family, visit


Edward Culbertson, Jr., 84, of Avondale, died on Oct. 7 at his home.

He was the husband of Esther Murray Culbertson, with whom he shared 59 years of marriage. Born in Philadelphia, he was the son of the late Edward and the late Agnes (Quinn) Culbertson, Sr. He owned and operated Culbertson Enterprises, Inc., Roof Systems, Inc, and Culbertson Company of Virginia until his retirement in 1991. He was a member of the Brick Layers Union, the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., and Radley Run Country Club. He was a member of the Board of Trustees for Shipley School and on the board of Woodlynde School. He loved flying, and traveling in his motor home.

In addition to his wife, Esther M Culbertson, he is survived by his children, Steven Culbertson of Philadelphia, Bert Culbertson of Wharton, N.J., and Allison Culbertson of Big Pine Key, Fla.; Bert’s wife Sherridan Cottam Culbertson, and Allison’s partner, Brian Branigan; and five beloved grandchildren, Sarah, Maya, Gus, Paige and Keagan.

A visitation with family and friends will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Oct. 22 at the Kuzo & Grieco Funeral Home Inc. (250 W. State St., Kennett Square). A service celebrating his life will follow at 11 a.m. Interment will be held privately. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Woodlynde School, 445 Upper Gulph Road, Strafford, PA 19087. To view his online tribute and to share a memory with his family, visit


Colleen C. Johnson, 89, of Oxford,passed away on Oct. 3 at Ware Presbyterian Village in Oxford.

She was the wife of Paul M. Johnson, and was preceded in death by her first husband, Richard Lee Davis. Born in Coatesville, she was the daughter of the late Frank and Nakada Sumner Charlton. Colleen was a member of Oxford Church of the Nazarene.

She is survived by her husband; two sons, Richard Frank Davis of Newark, Del., and Michael Edward Davis of Oxford; one daughter, Cynthia Trahan of Lafayette, La.; and four grandchildren, James Derek Davis, Nicole Lee Davis Joshua Lee Davis and Jonathan Karl Davis.

Funeral services were held Oct. 7. Interment was in Oxford Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 399 Market Street, Suite 102, Philadelphia, PA 19106; or Oxford Church of the Nazarene. Online condolences may be made at


Moncrieff L. Watson, born Oct. 20, 1955, son of the late Oliver and Edna Watson of Lincoln University, passed away Oct. 3.

Moncrieff, known to family and friends as "Monty," was a loving husband, father, brother and pop-pop. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Joan Watson; his two sons, Moncrieff and Andre Watson; two grandchildren, Inaiah Hamlett and Mahki Nowlin-Watson; older brother, Clarence Watson; nieces, nephews and numerous cousins and friends who loved him.

Monty graduated from Oxford Area High School in 1973. Over the years, he worked for Dupont, Chrysler and Herr’s until he retired.  Monty was an avid Minnesota Vikings fan and Golden State Warriors fan. He enjoyed watching westerns and listening to jazz music. Monty was also a devoted horse racing fan. He looked forward to attending the Belmont Stakes race each year, but his one passion was going fishing with family and friends on his boat. 

A service was held Oct. 10. Interment was in Oxford Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, PO Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718. Online condolences may be made at

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