LOTTSBURG—Rodney Clark Mercker, 92, avid sailor, animal lover and longtime Northern Neck resident, died September 7, 2021, in Lottsburg with his devoted dog Louie by his side.
Known to friends and family alike as a man of few words and of great insight, Rod enjoyed a love of sailing and all things boat and train and a deep commitment to the community he called home for four decades.
Rod was born June 27, 1929, in Weehawken, New Jersey, the son of Albert E. Mercker and Frances Hecking Mercker. Rod grew up as the quietly determined middle son in a loving and active family of three boys in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Washington, D.C. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1947 and attended the University of Maryland, becoming a lifelong Terp before transferring to Michigan State. Rod earned a forestry degree and cultivated a dual commitment to both universities’ basketball teams through thick and thin.
Rod served with honors in the U.S. Navy and toured the Far East, including Japan, as well as braving the Arctic, handling cartography in Barrow, Alaska, and points north. Rod joined the National Institutes of Health after his naval service and became a respected team member and leader during his tenure. Yet the call of the sea remained, and he retired to the Northern Neck to spend his days sailing and working on his boats, including the Sea Pearl, The Patrick Henry and the Snail.
Always a man of service, Rod was a member of the Lions Club and a dedicated adopter of stray animals in Northumberland County. Rod’s beloved wife Polly Ward, with whom he made a lovely and welcoming home on Glebe Creek for many years, died in 2017.
He is survived by his brothers, Albert E. Mercker Jr. of Leesburg and Donald F. Mercker of Frisco, Texas; stepdaughter, Amy Ward of Richmond; nieces, Paige Mercker Sonnabend, Pamela Mercker Ingraham, Allison Mercker Covert and Melissa Mercker Klein; and a nephew, Christian Mercker of Lovettsville.
Rod’s ashes will be scattered at his cherished farm in Lottsburg, and a celebration of life will be scheduled later this fall.