Richard Merritt, a longtime figure in Fort Lauderdale's yachting industry, died on Thanksgiving Day following a bout with cancer. He was 69.
Born in Fort Lauderdale, Merritt and his siblings grew up in the family's local boating and fishing business, which was started by their grandfather, Franklin, in 1948 and was called Merritt Boat and Engine Works, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported.
Richard's father, Buddy, began building boats in the family boatyard in 1958 and set out to “build the perfect tuna fishing boat” with the help of his son. The boat is now commonly referred to as the Merritt 37.
In 1966, Richard Merritt began selling yachts, and 10 years later he started Merritt Yacht Brokers in Fort Lauderdale.
His family described him as an avid fisherman with plenty of fish tales, including the time about 20 years ago when he and his brother, Steve, caught a 150-pound tarpon in the middle of the Intracoastal Waterway near Port Everglades.
He and Lucille Merritt, his wife of 27 years, had three children and four grandchildren.
His wife said one of her husband's most cherished experiences occurred this year when his father and uncle were inducted into the International Fishing Hall of Fame.
“Everyone who knows boats and fishing knows the Merritt name. Richard was a big part of it,” Lucille Merritt told the newspaper. “This is a huge loss.”