By Sue Moore
Singers, actors and stagehands for the Vicksburg Rotary Club’s popular Showcase musical are treated each rehearsal to a break with doughnuts and coffee. It’s a social time for the many volunteers who sing, dance, tell jokes and do pratfalls all over the stage of the Performing Arts Center for two months each year.
The whole community comes together to produce a show that is entertaining and a money raiser for the Rotary Club. One special but underappreciated guy sees to the appetites of the performers so they can have a sugar high and coffee each Sunday afternoon during rehearsal. It is Bob Merrill, a 60-year Lions Club member who has been in charge of hospitality over 10 years for the Rotary Club.
He comes to this duty with a love for gab. He is completing a job at 91 years of age that seems fairly routine but totally necessary for the production to go forward. He got hooked into carrying the water, so to speak, by his wife, Peg Merrill, who was a long-standing Rotarian in their mixed-loyalty family in Vicksburg.
When she passed away in 2014, he just kept right on doing the job without any fanfare or special notice. The cast appreciates his effort but has no idea of how the job gets done. That’s because Bob doesn’t require lots of pats on the back, just the chance to tell his many stories about people and places that he remembers with great fondness.
A lifelong resident of Vicksburg, a store owner of Rawlinson Appliances and a past-president of the Lions Club, Bob‘s ability to carry a heavy refrigerator upstairs and down on his back is legendary. His brute strength for a guy who is no more than 5 foot 6 in his stocking feet says it all. He will often bake cookies to bring for the cast and crew as a special treat.
His memory is just fine but once he got to gabbing with a friend while picking up the doughnuts at Family Fare and walked right out of the store without paying. There are 21 security cameras in the store and not one of them caught this action. When he got home he suddenly realized he had forgotten to pay. He came right back with the goods and checked them out the right way without hesitation, so he didn’t get “busted” and have to deal with that humiliation.