Frank J. Merchel Jr., 86

Oct 15, 2020 by

Champion swimmer who became noted golf course superintendent

Published October 15, 2020

NORTH READING — Frank John Merchel Jr., 86, a 56-year resident of North Reading, passed away Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, surrounded by his loving family.

He was the husband of Emily (Wisniewski) Merchel, with whom he shared 57 years of marriage.

Frank was born in Pawtucket, R.I. on Dec. 23, 1933, to the late Frank Merchel and Mary Brod, both Polish immigrants. He was raised in Pawtucket and was a graduate of Pawtucket East High School Class of 1952. He was a member of the multiple state championship varsity swimming team under coach Max Read and the Pawtucket Boys Club Swim Team.

He received a full scholarship to North Carolina State University, which provided the means for an advanced education. While a member of the N.C. State Wolfpack varsity swim team, he received 300-meter Medley Relay All-America honors for 1956 and was the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke men’s Atlantic Coast Conference champion for 1958. A 1959 N.C. State graduate with a B.S. degree in Park Management, he received further Turf Management education at the University Rhode Island and UMass Amherst.

Practical experience was gained from longtime superintendent Anthony (Tony) Caranci at the Ledgemont Country Club in Seekonk. Development of the Thomson Country Club, a vision of noted golf course architect Geoffery Cornish, lured Frank to North Reading in 1962. He supervised course construction and became the course’s first superintendent upon completion of the first nine holes. Frank enjoyed a lengthy career as a superintendent for local golf courses at the Hillview Country Club, Indian Ridge Country Club and Kirkbrae Country Club (Lincoln, R.I.). He also operated a landscaping business.

Frank was predeceased by his brothers, Marygn and Miczyslaw, and his sisters, Helena and Gana Cole. He is survived by his son Frank and his wife, Kathy Hutchinson Merchel, of Windham, N.H., and his daughter Jennifer and her husband, Jamie DiVola, of Peabody, as well as his grandchildren, Thomas Merchel and his partner Rachel Leibowitz, Matthew Merchel, Robert Merchel, Ava DiVola and Vincent DiVola.

His funeral will be held on Friday, Oct. 16, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Theresa Church, 63 Winter Street (Rte. 62), North Reading. Visitation will be private. Interment will be in Riverside Cemetery in North Reading.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made in his memory to Arrangements are by the Croswell Funeral Home, 19 Bow St., North Reading. To leave an online message of condolence, visit

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