C. Raymond Merriwether, 86, died peacefully at his home in Kirkland, Wa. in the company of his loving wife of 32 years, Barbara Merriwether, and close family members, after a long and heroic battle with cancer, on Monday evening, May 23, 2011.
Born in Taylor, Texas on June 19, 1924, he was the son of Colie and Annie Merriwether, and one of five children, all of whom preceded him in death.
In 1947, he graduated from Howard University, in Washington, D.C., with a degree in Civil Engineering and, in 1948, became a structural plan examiner for the City of Seattle's Building Department. Three years later, he developed his first two apartment buildings in the Northwest.
In 1952, Ray Merriwether bought The Pacific Leader, a newspaper serving the black community, from the late City Councilman Sam Smith. As editor of the paper Merriwether teamed with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attorney Phillip Burton, to challenge racial discrimination in the city. The Pacific Leader and the NAACP led a successful campaign to get local banks to hire the first black bank teller. They also pressured the Tradewell chain of grocery stores to hire black clerks and persuaded the owners of a central Seattle office building to rent to black professionals.
He earned a masters degree in urban planning at the University of Washington and, later, earned a degree in architectural engineering in 1960 at Washington State University.
For more than 40 years, his successful career focused on the fields of health care management, architecture, engineering and property development. He developed and operated residential complexes and designed single- family residences before turning his focus toward the health care industry. As a founding partner of the Peck & Merriwether Architectural and Engineering firm, he designed, developed, and managed several nursing homes, the largest of which housed 238 residents.
He later founded Ray Merriwether & Associates, headquartered on Seattle's East Side. While managing multiple apartment buildings and nursing homes, he also served as a consultant on senior housing for non-profit organizations, and supported the educational endeavors of Seattle-area students.
Retired for many years, he and Barbara pursued their passions of golf, bridge and traveling around the world.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children and stepchildren, Chrystal Weinberg, (John) Clyde Merriwether, (Jackie) Artis Dawson, Dr. Edie Moore, and Roger E. Moore Jr., five grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank the staff and nurses of the Evergreen Hospice for their expert care and constant professionalism.
The CR Merriwether Scholarship Fund for architectural, civil, and environmental engineering undergraduate and graduate students has been established in his memory at both the University of Washington and the Washington State University Foundation. Memorial contributions may be sent to each scholarship fund:
CR Merriwether Scholarship, c/o University of Washington, Box 351266, Seattle, WA 98195-1266. CR Merriwether Scholarship, c/o Washington State University Foundation, P.O. Box 641927, Pullman, WA 99164-1927.