In Memory of Bryan

As many of you know, I lost my husband Thursday, March 19, to a sudden heart attack.

He was in line for the morning ferry to Seattle when he collapsed. Paramedics tried to revive him for nearly an hour but were unsuccessful. An hour later, the deputy coroner and fire department chaplain knocked on my door to bring me the awful news.

He was a great man, honest, hard-working and brilliant, a caring husband and devoted father. He tried to pretend he was a stern and cranky attorney but had the biggest heart I’ve ever known. We are still staggering under the impact of his sudden death and will miss him terribly.

Following is the obituary we submitted to the Kitsap Sun and Anchorage Daily News.

bryan_merrellBryan S. Merrell, of Poulsbo, WA, died of a sudden heart attack March 19, 2009 at the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal. Born September 3, 1963 in Rolla, MO, he was 45.

He grew up in Anchorage, AK, graduated from Prairie High School in 1981, WSU in 1985 and U of Idaho in 1988 with a JD degree.

For the last 15 years, he was an attorney for First American Title, most recently as regional counsel and senior divisional underwriter in Seattle, WA and previously as state counsel and title manager in Anchorage, AK. Prior to that, he was an attorney with both Groh Eggers Price and Routh Crabtree in Anchorage.

Bryan adored his two dogs, Panda and Murphy. He was a Seahawks season ticket holder and a Mariners and WSU Cougars fan. He enjoyed motoring in his convertible MINI, boating on the Puget Sound, gardening and writing.

He married Jeri Sisco Merrell on June 21, 1997, and was a devoted father to his stepsons, Benjamin and Zachary Moore, all of Poulsbo, WA. He is also survived by parents, Jackie (Hale) and Dale Merrell, of Aloha, OR, and his sister and her family, Michelle (Merrell) and Kenneth Ackerman and their children Scott and Alexander Ackerman.

An informal celebration of life will be held 7pm Tuesday, March 24, at the Poulsbo Sons of Norway hall. We will also be scheduling a celebration of life in Anchorage in the near future, and will update when we have more information. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Bryan’s name to the King County Humane society or your local animal rescue organization.

37 Responses to “In Memory of Bryan”

  1. Janiece Says:

    Jeri, I am so sorry for your loss. Know that you are loved, and are in my thoughts daily.

  2. Choyu Says:

    Jeri, Ben and Zach, We are all truly saddened by this loss! He was a great guy whom I looked up to and respected very much!

  3. Ilya Says:

    Jeri, my deepest condolences to you, Ben, Zach, and Bryan’s family. You are in my thoughts, and I wish you strength and fortitude in such trying times.

  4. kim Says:

    You know that you and the boys are in my thoughts and prayers. You have friends who are here for you..use our strength and feel our love for you all.

  5. MWT Says:

    Very sorry for your loss. :(

    My father died the same way. I have some idea of what you and your family are going through, and will go through.

  6. Jeri Says:

    Thanks, MWT. My father died the same way as well, a decade ago, and this is bringing back all sorts of tough memories for my mom and sister who were there and assisted in first response.

    And thanks to everyone else too. The caring thoughts have been tremendously helpful.

  7. Random Michelle Says:

    My condolences, and my love.

  8. Carol Elaine Says:

    Jeri, all of my sympathy and love go out to you,Ben, Zach, and Bryan’s family. I am deeply sorry.

    *huge hugs*

  9. slatrat Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. No one is prepared for this sort of thing. It’s just so immensely sad.

  10. Eric Says:

    You are indeed loved by so many of us, and my thoughts are with you as well.

  11. Beast Mom Says:

    Oh Jeri, this is awful. I am shocked. And so sorry. I will keep you and the family in my prayers.
    Love, Christina

  12. Holy Says:

    Jeri –

    I’m staggered by this…absolutely shocked. I’m so incredibly sorry and am praying for you, the boys, his sister and his parents.

    I never had the honor of meeting him but he lived so lively on this blog and I loved reading his stuff – his voice spoke volumes of his character and heart.

    Take extreme self care right now, Jeri.

    Love, Danna

  13. Keith Wilson Says:

    Deepest condolences from our family Jeri, losing someone is hard enough, even harder when it’s unexpected. Stay strong. A celebration of life is wonderful, we did the same for my mom. It’s important to keep living. It’s important to remember his life and what he gave you.

  14. Tania Says:

    John and I send our sympathies and love.


  15. Steve Taylor Says:

    im so sorry for your loss, Bryan will be greatly missed.

  16. David Cinamon Says:

    Jeri, I have been lucky enough to sit with you and Bryan on the ferry from time to time. I am stunned by the news, and have thought of you both often since hearing. My condolences to you. What sad news.

    Dave Cinamon

  17. Becca Says:


    I am so very sorry for your loss, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Becca Kauffman

  18. Natalie Says:


    Much hugs, love, and condolences from me (and Larry).


  19. Grace Ferguson Says:


    Christina just told me about your husband and I am so sorry to hear the news. I only got to meet you and get to know your for a quick “girl’s weekend” but knew from how you spoke of Bryan how much you adored him and loved being married to him. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss and will lift you in my prayers and thoughts in the coming days.

    I’m so sorry for this unexpected turn your journey will take you on… please know that you are not alone.

    Grace (Christina’s sister)

  20. Tanya Says:


    I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t have any words. Just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.


  21. mattw Says:


    My condolances for you and your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  22. Ryan (First American Title) Says:

    Jeri and Family: My deepest sorrow for you and your family. What a tragic loss!

    I only got to know Bryan a little bit through work, but I know how very much he will be missed. Everyone loved him!

  23. Claire Says:

    Jeri and family,

    I am sorry for your loss. I was lucky to have Bryan as my Supervisor and friend. He will be missed. My heart and prayers go to you and your family.

  24. Chris Says:

    I’m sorry for your loss Jeri. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  25. John Anicker Says:

    I was right in front of your husband when it happened and was one of the first on the scene. I was alerted to the situation by the sound of him crumpling to the ground. I turned quickly to find him lying down, but still conscious. He was actually trying to get up, and fumbling for his bag and morning paper, as if he had merely lost his footing. It was clear to all of us around him, though, that all was not well and he returned to the ground. At that point I RAN to the plank attendant and asked that they call 911, which they did and they went up to the scene.

    There were many people at the scene at that point and I chose to not return “upstream” against the many commuters. From the back of the boat I could see the ambulance arrive 4-5 minutes after I put in the word.

    I can’t imagine your grief, and am truly sorry for your loss. I only found out what happened shortly before this post via word of mouth, and was able to find the article in the Kitsap Sun and found this place via Google. I’m in a state of shock myself since I think about what happened every day and was actually looking for your husband only this morning to find out if everything was “ok”. Later the morning of his passing I had talked to some other passengers who shared that your husband was conscience and that the aid workers had him on oxygen. I wrongly assumed that he was going to be ok. I don’t know if my story helps or hurts or brings any closure. Again, I’m very very sorry.

  26. Stephen Says:

    Jeri-we were so saddened to learn of Bryan’s passing. He was truly a wonderful man. We will miss him in Alaska.

  27. Gale Hickok Says:

    I came to know Bryan professionally in the title industry. He was a great person that had a intelligent sense of humor and possessed sensibility, which is seldom found. He will be missed and will bring a smile to us in our future reflections of him.

  28. Richard Flory Says:

    I knew Brain through our relationship at First American Title. He was truly “One of the Best”. I valued his counsel and wisdom in many matters. I enjoyed the times we worked together and will remember him with a smile.

    I am sorry for your loss, he was way to young to be called. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Richard Flory

  29. Kurt Hanson Says:

    Bryan was a good friend of mine in Alaska when we attended the same elementary school. He had a great sense of humor and always made me crack up with his jokes. We had lots of happy times together in the 6th grade. Unfortunately, I lost touch with him after high school. I remember when we were kids he said he was a big fan of Perry Mason and wanted to be a lawyer, too. I’m so glad to see he fulfilled his dream. I will miss Bryan.

  30. Jim DeWitt Says:

    I worked with and against Bryan many times over the years, beginning at Groh, Eggers and continuing through his work in Seattle. He was a fine lawyer, interested in what was right and what best served his client. He was also honest, unfailingly polite and courteous. His death is a sad loss to the Alaska Bar and real property law.

    My deepest sympathies.

  31. Kristi in Seward Says:

    Jeri, boys and doggies,

    Bryans death is just the hardest news to comprehend. Several times a day, I find myself tearing up just thinking about this sad loss. He was one of those great guys that always made me feel special and I love that there were never any “dumb” questions when I needed to go to him. There are notes all over my title plant and in my on-line files that say “Per Bryan” along with the accurate real property advise he would dispense. Some of us called him Sensei since he was always teaching his little grasshoppers. I’m so happy that through the company over the years I was able to travel with him and get to know him as a person. As everyone is saying, there was just no one finer than he. I was sad when your family moved to Seattle but happy that he was still only an email away. Jeri, please know that you especially are in my heart during this difficult time. Be well, take care.

  32. Joe Wahl Says:

    Jeri, my deepest condolences to you, Ben, Zach, and Bryan’s family. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I wish you strength and courage in such trying times. If there is anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  33. Tami Sommerville Says:

    Jeri, I just heard the news. What a shock for you and the boys. I’m so very sorry you lost your best friend. You have a very long, hard road ahead of you, but have the support of your friends and family and especially all the wonderful memories of Bryan. Thinking of you often ~ Take care

  34. Nance Marshall Says:

    Jeri, I am deeply sorry for your loss.

  35. John Dahl Says:

    Jeri: Still tear up every time I think of Bryan. Miss him every day in every way………..John D

  36. Aunt Carolynn Says:

    Jeri – your mom just left my house a few minutes ago. She gave me your ‘address’ so I am responding, offering my condolences from not only me but also your cousins (Mike,DeDe,Alfred,((and Linda wherever she is!!)). My thoughts and prayers are with you and God be on your shoulder during this difficult time.

  37. Diana Christiansen Says:

    Jeri & family ~
    I just heard today of your sad loss. I worked with Bryan on a couple of small projects and attended a few seminars where he was the chairman. He was intellegent, funny, kind and a joy to work with. My only regret is that I did not get to know him better.
    My heart goes out to you and your family during this difficult time.
    Bryan will be missed professionally and, most importantly, personally.
    May time ease your pain and please know that you and yours are in our thoughts and prayers.