March 7, 2020

Merritt Milton Hein, 93, of Hutchinson passed away Saturday, March 7, at Harmony River Living Center in Hutchinson. Funeral service was Tuesday, March 17, at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, with interment in Greenwood Cemetery in New York Mills. The Rev. Stephanie Friesen officiated. Organist was Mark Sedio. Soloist was Froya Olson. Military honors by the United States Navy. Casket bearers were Dan Freeman, Doug Freeman, Alex Freeman, Ed Ross, Henry Ross and Al Ross. Honorary casket bearer was Ken Freeman.

Merritt Milton Hein was born Jan. 12, 1927, in Snellman, the son of Wendell and Edna Zenia (Barden) Heinonen. He was baptized as an infant and confirmed as a youth at the Apostolic Lutheran Church in New York Mills. Merritt grew up in New York Mills.

Merritt attended high school in New York Mills until he realized his dream of enlisting in the United States Navy on Aug. 4, 1944. He finished high school at the United States Armed Forces Institute. He served in Idaho, Washington state and aboard ship as a quarterman/signalman in the Pacific theater of World War II. After the war, he was stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy until his discharge in 1947.

He returned to Minnesota, eventually settling in Minneapolis where he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a business administration degree in 1957. He spent his career in accounting as auditor for several companies, retiring from U.S. Bank in Minneapolis after 20 years of employment. Merritt was a member of Central Lutheran church in Minneapolis for 40 years. He moved to Hutchinson in 2000 and resided at Harmony River Living Center since 2016.

Merritt enjoyed roller skating, dancing, music, reading and going to college. He also enjoyed traveling and used to hitchhike up and down the East Coast. Merritt was devoted to his mother and his family. He did his best to make up for the loss of his father at an early age. Merritt was proud to have been a good sailor who served his country in wartime.

Blessed be his memory.

Merritt is survived by his sisters, Virginia Garrard of Birmingham, Alabama, Claudette Sjoholm of Bloomington, Joy Major of Minneapolis, Sharon Freeman and her husband, Ken, of Sleepy Eye; and many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends

Merritt was preceded in death by his parents Wendell and Edna Heinonen; brothers-in-law, Cy Garrard and Bob Sjoholm; nieces, Terry Sjoholm and Jennifer Stickney; and nephew Doug Garrard.

Arrangements by Dobratz-Hantge Funeral Chapel in Hutchinson. Online obituaries and guestbook available at

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