Merle's Story

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Merle Leo Choffel (92) passed away peacefully on May 20, 2017. Merle was born in Frenchtown, PA, September 28, 1924 to Gladys and Leo Choffel, and as a young man, worked on the family dairy farm (alongside his 10 siblings) until he entered the Army Air Force during World War II at the age of 19. He proudly served three years including time in the 91st Bomb Group in Bassingbourn, UK, as bombardier on a B17. While stationed in San Antonio he met and fell in love with Betty Jane Carter. They married in 1947 at St. Gerard Catholic Church and were happily married for 69 years. Merle and Betty lived in Lytle Texas for a few years where they tried their hands at Texas farming. When the 1950's drought affected their farming operations, they moved back to San Antonio and Merle went to work at Kelly Air Force Base. At the age of 28 he built a beautiful wooden boat, when 34 he remodeled the family home, and when 50 he earned a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Oklahoma. In 1981, after 34 years of federal service at Kelly, Merle retired from the San Antonio Air Logistics Center. Merle was very dedicated to St Gerard's Parish and School and also served on the Archdiocesan Board of Education. His efforts in serving the Catholic Church were recognized in 1971 with Merle being presented the Archbishop Furey Medal, and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontiface Medal from Pope Paul VI in 1973. His passions included fishing, boating, reading and camping, traveling the entire country with Betty in their RV, and attending family reunions near his original home in Crawford County, PA. Merle especially enjoyed the baby-buggy races in PA with his brothers!
A beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he was preceded in death by his wife Betty Jane, son James, parents, sisters Adelaide Lippert and Mabel Garland, and brothers Arthur (Bus), Louis, and James. Survivors include son Rick (Erika) of Irving, daughter Barbara Thurman of San Antonio, son Ken (Harriett) of Austin, daughter Susan Feeney of Chicago, son John of Lake Travis, sisters Betty Dale and Shirley Bracken, brothers John, Rodney and Michael, 17 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren, and a host of nephews, nieces, and other relatives. Merle and Betty are proud to have sponsored the seminary education of Reverend John Sarath, a Catholic priest in India. In the spirit of giving, Merle donated his body to science at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
A rosary will be recited at 9:30 AM at St. Gerard Catholic Church, 1617 Iowa Street, on Saturday, July 1, 2017, followed by a memorial Mass at 10 AM. Burial will take place at a later date. Although the family appreciates floral tributes, they request a memorial contribution be made to St. Gerard Church, 1617 Iowa Street, San Antonio, TX 78203, or to St. Hippolyte Church, 25997 State Highway 27, Guys Mills, PA 16327. For online tributes please visit www.SunsetNWfuneralhome.com.
Published on June 5, 2017
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