Jerry Merryman died February 27, 2019 in Dallas. He was one of my heroes, and I didn’t even know it.
There are several inventions for which I am eternally grateful. One is the automobile. I can’t function without my car. Since I live in a small town, I have to drive some distance to get services or products. My car is essential for my life.
Another invention is the computer. Without a computer I wouldn’t be able to produce this column every week. Though there are times when I am less than eternally grateful for it. Like when it gives me the blue screen of death or for some other reason refuses to work.
A third favorite invention is the electronic calculator. Something to do my figuring for me. How wonderful is that? Now I can balance my checkbook without wasting my entire Saturday morning. Addition and subtraction no longer hold the mystery they once did. And percentages, merely on key click away.
My first calculator was from Texas Instruments. At that time, Texas Instruments was the Cadillac of calculators. Mine had a built-in rechargeable battery. I didn’t have to buy batteries, just plug into the wall. Life was almost perfect. Each key would “click” before it showed up on the screen so I knew when I had the right number entered into it. It was almost small enough to fit in my back pocket.
One day I reached for my calculator, pressed the “on” button, and was greeted with a blank display. No concern. I could plug in the calculator and it would work while it was charging. Without thinking too hard about it, I plugged in my trusty electronic genius. There was a pop, and then some smoke rose from beneath it. I picked it up and threw it down. It was hot. This was not good. I unplugged it and turned it on. My trusty friend had died. It had been a while since I used it last and I hadn’t kept it charged. I let it die quietly in my desk drawer. I was stunned and ashamed I hadn’t paid more attention to it. I killed it and life would never be the same. Until I bought a new one that was smaller and worked as well.
Jerry Merryman was part of a three-man team that developed the pocket size electronic calculator. He’s my hero. I carry a memorial to him every day as I slide my calculator into my pocket.
But he’s my hero in another way. He was described as not only brilliant, but kind and with a good sense of humor. If only I could be like him – brilliant, kind and with a humorous outlook on life. For me, that’s the perfect man.