Orville D. Merillat

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Orville D. Merillat (1916 – 1999), businessman and philanthropist, was born on a dirt farm in Tedrow, Ohio, on May 1, 1916, he quit school in the ninth grade to work on the family farm. He married Ruth Muller on January 19, 1941, and served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II.

After the war, he started a cabinet-making business with his wife, and became the co-founder, President and CEO of Merillat Industries, Inc., building the business on the principles set forth in Malachi 3:10. Always a team, he and Ruth eventually employed over 3,000 people with more than eleven factories across the United States. Orville retired when the business was sold in 1983 to the Masco Corporation, and his son then became the President of Merillat Industries.

Orville was the recipient of the Michigan Small Business Person of the Year in 1977; co-recipient with Ruth of the National Association of Evangelicals' Laypersons of the Year in 1988; co-founded the Orville and Ruth Merillat Foundation; founded the Christian Family Foundation; was a major benefactor and contributor to Siena Heights College (Now Siena Heights University) in Adrian, Michigan; was a major contributor to Huntington University in Indiana; was a major contributor to Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan; was founder and benefactor of Lenawee Christian School and the Christian Family Centre; was the founder and benefactor of 243-acre (0.98 km2) Michindoh Camp and Conference Center in Hillsdale, Michigan; donated an obstetrics ward to Narsapur Hospital in India; donated a wing to Bixby Hospital in Adrian, Michigan; received an honorary doctorate degree from Huntington College; was the co-author of his autobiography "His Guiding Hand" published by Coral Ridge Ministries in 1992; was a major contributor to the Republican Party; was the father of Richard Merillat; and was the grandfather of Wendy, Collette and Tricia.