Obituary of Merrall T. Hildreth
Born: April 5, 1924; Deceased: July 5, 2020 Merrall is an 11th generation Hildreth descended from one of two brothers who settled on Long Island in 1635. He died gently at home, under care of East End Hospice, his caregiver and immediate family. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mary Lewis Hildreth; his daughter, Deborah Hildreth Phelps; three grandchildren: Bree Moss, Eric Moss, Eleanor Phelps (Sister Quang Son); 2 great grandchildren: Mackenzie Moss, Rowan Moss; son-in-law, John Moss; and sister Mary Louise (Mimi) Hildreth Leonard. He is predeceased by a daughter, Donna Hildreth Moss; both his parents, Wallace Leland Hildreth, Elizabeth Vail Hildreth; four siblings, Ruth Hildreth Wiggins, Wilbur (Will) Leland Hildreth, Elizabeth (Betty) Hildreth Thayer, and Charles Edward (Ed) Hildreth. Merrall was a life-long resident of Sagaponack and a long-standing member of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, serving in different capacities. He attended the Sagaponack School through the eighth grade and graduated from Bridgehampton High School in 1942. Upon graduation he enlisted in the US Navy and served his country for four years during WWII as an Aviation Machinist Mate (AMM) on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Theater, from 1942 to 1946. He was honorably discharged as Aviation Machinist Mate First Class (AMM 1C) and was awarded a Silver Star, four Bronze Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, the Navy’s third highest individual award. After his service to the country, he returned to Sagaponack to work with his father Wallace Leland Hildreth in the family business, Hildreth & Company General Store, replacing his Uncle Thomas Hildreth who retired; and serving in the Sagaponack Post Office as Assistant Postmaster (his father being Postmaster) until 1970 when he served as Postmaster until his retirement in 1986. Earnest C. Loper owned and operated the store and was Postmaster from January 27, 1857 – 1893, when Charles A. Hildreth and Thomas Hildreth bought and ran it. In 2001, Merrall sold the building housing the store and post office to his nephew, Richard Thayer. Thus, keeping ownership within the family. Merrall an artist/creator in his own way, particularly in wood, though he painted in his early years. He was an avid boatman and built his own boats, ice boats, sunfish, a 20’ cabin boat with outboard motor where the family spent most weekends on the water in Long Island Sound. He designed, built, and furnished many doll houses, as well as replicas of the Hildreth & Company General Store, Sagg School, and the original Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church that was located on Bridge Lane. He also carved many animals and figures in wood. He was meticulous in his work and had the patience of a saint. After selling the store in 2001, he created a museum of sorts in his barn with family heir looms, antiques from the general store and assorted items he acquired over the years. He loved bowling and for years was a member of a bowling team, frequently throwing strikes. After retirement he took up golfing and on a trip to Florida got a hole-in-one at a course he was playing for the first time. He was a natural athlete (and joker) and commented about the hole-in-one, “Well, isn’t that what you are supposed to do?” Merrall was always helping someone -- creating things in wood for anyone who asked, or repairing things, particularly for the elderly. When he delivered groceries to customers, he would often return with a chair or clock that needed some attention, which he lovingly repaired for free and returned with the next grocery delivery. He was a member of the Sagaponack Cemetery Association, doing his share of maintaining the grounds and the daily raising and lowering of the American flag. Donations are welcome at: Sagaponack Cemetery Association, Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, and East End Hospice.