Founder of IDI Composites International dies at 88


John Keith Merrell, 88, of Noblesville, died at his home on June 30.


The son of William and Blanche Merrell, John was born in Richmond, Ind. on April 1, 1927 and was the youngest of nine children. After he graduated from Richmond High School in 1945, John served his country as a member of the United States Navy. He graduated from Purdue University in 1950 where he met his beloved wife, Verna, and became a lifelong member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

John moved to New York City in 1950 to begin his career in sales at Spaulding Fiber Company. He and Verna were married in 1950 at The Little Church Around the Corner and greatly enjoyed their time in New York.

The family moved back to Noblesville in 1966, and on July 1 of the same year, John founded Industrial Dielectrics, Inc., a now global company, still based in Noblesville.

He grew the business to become the industry leader in thermoset composite materials with eight manufacturing locations around the world and more 700 dedicated and loyal employees. He held several national industry leadership positions during his career.

A child of the depression and extraordinarily humble beginnings, John embodied the American Dream from which he took great pride.

With his sharp wit and love of life, John was a true raconteur whose presence always filled the room, charming those around him. Through travel and constant learning, he instilled a curiosity and sense of adventure in his family and friends all of whom both admired and loved him dearly.

John became a thoughtful philanthropist who was attentive to the plight of those around him and charitable with his time and means. Above all, he was a devoted husband, loving father, and wonderful grandfather.

He is survived by his wife Verna, four children and their families: Carrie (Merrell) Houchin of Huntingburg, Ind, Liz (Merrell) Ricci of Cincinnati, Ohio, Jay Merrell of Noblesville, and Tom Merrell of Indianapolis, and their families. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Amelia Merrell.

In lieu of flowers, donations in John’s name can be made to the American Cancer Society, the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville or the charity of your choice.


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