Courtney Merle Lawyer (May 9, 2019)

Merle Lawyer photoSeptember 12, 1934 ~ May 9, 2019

Monday, May 13, 2019
1:00 – 8:00 PM
Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home
Harlan, IA
(get directions)
Family will greet friends from 4:00 – 6:00 PM at the Funeral Home.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019
11:00 AM
First United Methodist Church
Harlan, IA
(get directions)
Burial will be in the Neola Township Cemetery, Neola, IA

Wife – Cleo Lawyer of Harlan, IA
1 Daughter – Charisse (Marc) Lawrence of Cedar Rapids, IA
2 Sons – Courtney (Beth) Lawyer of Glendale, AZ
Brad (Stacey) Lawyer of Portsmouth, IA
6 Step-sons – Jerry Cook of Council Bluffs, IA
Jeff Cook of Council Bluffs, IA
Dr. Dan (Anne) Cook of Richmond Heights, MO
Tony Cook of Denver, CO
Dan (Jayne) Garrison of Harlan, IA
Jeff Garrison of Irwin, IA
1 Step-daughter – Julie (Troy) Petry of Council Bluffs, IA
1 Brother – David (Caryl) Lawyer of Manly, IA
Many Grandchildren, Step-grandchildren, & Great-grandchildren

Courtney Merle Lawyer, the son of Courtney Hulbert and Leona Christine (Benjegerdes) Lawyer, was born on September 12, 1934, in Mason City, Iowa. He grew up on a farm located west of Manly, Worth County, Iowa. Merle went to Danville No. 6 country school through the fourth grade, and then attended Manly Public School, graduating from high school in 1952. He attended Iowa State College and graduated with a degree in Agronomy in 1956. Upon graduation, Merle received a commission in the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant, and served two years at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Fort Ord, California. He transferred to the US Army Reserves, and retired in 1983. Following active duty, Merle began a career as a Soil Conservationist with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service in LeMars, Anthon, and Harlan, Iowa. He retired in April 1994.

Merle married Marcella Katherine (Knapp) on July 30, 1961, in Le Mars, Iowa; this marriage ended in divorce. On January 9, 1981, he married Betty Lou (Trent) Cook. Betty died in 2006 after a long illness. Finally, Merle and Cleopha Krantz Garrison were married on July 11, 2009, at the First United Methodist Church in Harlan, Iowa.

Merle was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Harlan, Iowa. He also enjoyed membership in the Harlan and Harlan Golden Key Kiwanis Clubs, and served as president of both clubs. A member of the Eastern Star, Merle was also a 50-year Mason (Parian Masonic Lodge 321 AF&AM), and served as Master in Harlan for a year. He was also a member of the Shelby County Historical Society and had served on its board and as president of the board. Merle enjoyed family genealogy, history, and travel.

Merle Lawyer died on Thursday, May 9, 2019, at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan, Iowa. He had reached the age of 84 years, 7 months, and 27 days.

Merle was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Cleo Lawyer of Harlan, Iowa; one daughter, Charisse (Marc) Lawrence of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; two sons, Courtney (Beth) Lawyer of Glendale, Arizona, and Brad (Stacey) Lawyer of Portsmouth, Iowa; six step-sons, Jerry Cook and Jeff Cook, both of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Dr. Dan (Anne) Cook of Richmond Heights, Missouri, Tony Cook of Denver, Colorado, Dan (Jayne) Garrison of Harlan, Iowa, and Jeff Garrison of Irwin, Iowa; one step-daughter, Julie (Troy) Petry of Council Bluffs, Iowa; one brother, David (Caryl) Lawyer of Manly, Iowa; and many grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The funeral service was held on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, at the First United Methodist Church in Harlan, Iowa, with Pastor Mike Agnew officiating. John Rosman served as the musician. Casket bearers were Dan Garrison, Don Graeve, Dylan Garrison, Jeff Garrison, Charley Parkhurst, and Branden Lawyer. Burial was in the Neola Township Cemetery, Neola, Iowa. The Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home in Harlan, Iowa, was in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be left online at

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6 Responses to Courtney Merle Lawyer (May 9, 2019)

  1. Alston says:

    My condolences to the family. I am sorry for your loss. May the God of all comfort, comfort you during this sad time. (2 Corinthians 1:3,4; Job 14:14, 15)

  2. Erwin 'Ernie' Aust says:

    Erwin ‘Ernie’ Aust, Dear Family, Merle and I first met as students at Iowa State College then worked for the Soil Conservation Service in Iowa except for Military time.I also worked mostly in western Iowa and enjoyed working with Merle a good guy to work with. This was especially during the last several years working closely together in the same area, when he retired twice. He retired but then just couldn’t do it so stayed on a couple more and I was glad he did, dedicated to the conservation mission. As family you can be proud of his dedicated work and accomplishments, cherish the memories. God’s Blessings, from a long time fellow retired SCS Conservationist, Ernie Aust.

  3. Steven C. Stover says:

    I was pleased to have the opportunity to work with Merle and his staff for twelve years. Merle was a dedicated conservationist who deeply cared about the God given natural resources of Shelby county. He was dedicated in his work with landowners to plan and apply conservation practices to their land. The many conservation watershed projects in the county will be a legacy of his work for future generations. Steve Stover, retired area conservationist

  4. Lana henningsen says:

    I enjoyed both Merle and Cleo on bank trips, especially on our journey to Alaska. Heaven has gained another angel.

  5. Joshua Sieren District Conservationist, Oakland/Harlan Management Unit says:

    It amazes me how much being a District Conservationist for NRCS/SCS meant to Merle. He still stopped by the office to check on things and made suggestions to promote conservation in Shelby County. Last year he had submitted an article on important history items in conservation for the Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District Annual Report. He truly cared about “Helping People Help the Land.” His visits will be missed by myself and the rest of the Harlan Field Office.

  6. Marty Adkins says:

    As a young conservationist, Merle was my hero. He was someone I looked up to and wanted to be like. As the years went by that opinion never changed. Merle helped make the world a better place through his work and by just being Merle – what a special legacy he leaves. May God bless and comfort all of those who mourn his passing.

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