Merritt Memories

sponsored by Mill Valley Literary Review

Merritt 2013

Conversation with Merritt Cutten by J.K. at his home in Alpine Meadows. October, 2013.

Downloadable recordings. Additional photos. Below are memories from JK, and David Smilovitz, read by Bill Bancroft, from the Celebration on November 18, 2017. (maybe others later) Bio follows.


Merritt and Betty at King's (JK & Perry McKleroy King) Christmas Party 1996 Mill Valley, Ca on the event of our daughter Lucretia Fair King's christening.

Conversation with Merritt Cutten by J.K. at his home in Alpine Meadows. October, 2013.

These MPG files were recorded on video camera but some were for audio only without camera directly on Merrit. Files will download to your computer within your web browser and will either ask how to open or may automaticaly open Apple Quicktime or Windows Media Player, or another program. Then click play. If player program does not open, you must open folder wherever you downloaded file and doubleclick the downloaded file. Downloads can take several minutes to many minutes. Note that some are very large files. DO NOT download large files on slow internet connection speeds or on a phone or device with limited capacity. Download one file at a time. A download may fail for various reasons,so try again or try another.

Video 1 Germany train 334 video short clip played at his Memorial

Video 1 Germany Train 334 AVI format as alternative

Video 2 plays with audio only 335

Video 3 plays with audio only 336 large file 813 MB

Video 337 large file 1 GB

Video 5 338 with video

Video 6 339 with video G.E. WWII digital sites, B29

Video 7 340 audio only large file 800 MB

Video 8 341 audio only

Merritt with JK on JK birthday birthday Cottonwood, Truckee, June 2007


with Perry McKleroy King, JK at Los Altos BridgePoint assisted living home.




Memories of Merritt by JK

from Celebration Service Unitarian Church, Palo Alto CA on November 18, 2017

Hello, I am John King, also known as JK, or better known as Perry McKleroy’s husband. Perry’s folks had been best friends with the Cuttens for many many years. I first met Merritt at Lu McKleroy’s famed fabulous Christmas Party in San Francisco’s Pacific 1982. That would have made him 65, I thought him very old. Little did I know! I also met Janet and the late Chappie Wentworth and other delightful people. I immediately was attracted Merritt’s enthusiasm, kindness, and stories. 

Perry and I spent much time in Alpine Meadows, where Merritt and Betty lived and they were identifiable senior figures on the ski trails in Betty’s colorful cowboy hats and Merritt’s checker hat. Perry and I enjoyed many dinners and conversations with Merritt and Betty at their townhouse and our cabin. Merritt and I had matching passion for perfect martinis – with gin. Merritt was the only person I knew who could make a better martini than I. At Chris Mckleroy Jr’s 2010 graduation party from L.M.U. in L.A, Merritt was as usual, the oldest person on premises. To Chris’s college friends I proclaimed Merritt as a leading authority on all things alcohol. Merritt became surrounded by young drinking enthusiasts for an hour, eager to hear from a seasoned guru.  

Now, I am that old man — Merritt’s age when I met him. Later, after Betty passed, as I started feeling the pull of years, for my birthday I would go up to the mountains alone to celebrate my birthday. Merritt’s birthday is in May, mine in June and we ended up celebrating together, just he and I. A couple of times we went to the Cottonwood Restaurant on the hill above Truckee to celebrate. I told him that he having just turned 80 or 90 or 95 whatever, made me feel a lot less older! He was an inspiration to me. I don’t think he ever truly retired. There was always someone wanting one more lighting design project.

I publish the Mill Valley Literary Review magazine and interview a lot of people. One night in 2013 Merritt and I fixed drinks and dinner at his cozy town house at Alpine Estates. There under his gargantuan cuckoo clock, he and Betty had brought back from the Black Forrest, I interviewed Merritt, recording some on video, some on audio. I will now show a clip, and Merritt will have an opportunity to tell one last story.

(JK played short clip of his Germany train story. Other people spoke including Janet W., Perry, Merritt Jr, , Richard Gootee and his two young, daughter Mary, Bill Bancroft.)

After people spoke:

Now Merritt Cutten’s own cuckoo clock has run down and stopped. He reached his goal of 100 years. 100 years of tramps, travels, travails, love and stories. His last Cutten’s Casual Chronicle made it before the deadline. God bless you, Merritt Cutten.



Reflection by David Smilovitz, Pathways Chaplain

Merritt Cutten

read by Bill Bancroft

Merritt Cutten has requested that a poem , Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson be read at his memorial service. There is a metaphor in the poem that resonated with him and he shared w ith me how much he loved the images in the lines. I thought that t he Pilot at the end of the poem obviously was a name for God and I told him this when we discussed the poem. He said, “No it is not God. It is the Pilot. ” Merritt was this l ogical thinker, an engineer in his career. “ Let’s not confuse the intent of the poem wit h Judeo - Christian theology ” was what he seemed to be saying when we talked about the poem . . . or really when we communicated, it was by him talking, and me scrawling messages on a white board, or typing on a computer. Discussing the finer point s of his Unitarian beliefs was challenging when we visited however it wasn’t because of his theology or philosophy of life. It was jus t sometimes difficult because the method limited the spontaneous nature of conversation. T alking to this man or listening to this man was inspiring because his mind w as so agile, so bright, and always so curious .

Here was a special 100 - year old guy, very capable of expressing his needs. In my first couple of visits he admitted to me that he was tired of struggling with his pr ofound hearing loss, he said he was having more trouble seeing, that he had lost his taste buds and could not enjoy food the way he once did. He was unable to walk independently, he had several falls, and he was unhappy just sitting in his wheelch air all day. He said that he was done with the life that he was living. He suggest ed to me that he probably could disable his pacemaker on his own considering his engineering background . He said that it would probably be a simple thing with a powerful ma gne t or something to disturb the p acemaker ’s signal . H e said he would consult his cardiologist about t his and do things the right way . A fter all, it must be a simple thing.

His cardiologist was not on board with the request to disable his pacemaker. H e consulted with the Pathways team about the California Physician Aid in Dying end of life option , known as the P . A . D . program. H e

thought this was a viable option for a couple of weeks. The P . A . D . program ultimately did not appeal to him as he was hoping of dying in a more natural way. Options were discussed, and he suggest ed th at he could stop eating and drinking which he felt wou ld result in a peaceful ending to his life. He gave this option consideration. H e consulted with his daughter, Mary, Nurse Case Manager Carmen, Social Worker Karen, and me , the Chaplain . On his own, h e made th e decision that finally allowed him to regain the control that had been lacking for the last couple of years of his life. H e died about a week after he stopped eating and drinking. His daughter, Mary, thought he would live a little bit longer, which gave her some comfort because she said she was not quite ready to let him go. But he died peacefully, and she was happy that there was no agitation, or restlessness and that they did not have to witness any of the end stage breathing problems that would have prevented the peaceful way in which he died. Merritt died as he had lived - - with determination; he was a guy who was a relentless seeker o f solutions to problems by using his logical, analytical mind.


F or tho ’ from our bourne of Time and Place

T he flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

W hen I have crost the bar.


I n the end he realized as he looked face to face at the Pilot that he recognized every wrinkle in the Pilot ’s brow, and every well - earned crease of his cheeks. An d with out surprise he knew he was staring a t his own famil i a r face and was filled with awe knowing he had crossed the bar.



SFGate Obit here

This Memory page sponsored by Mill Valley Literary Review