Merton N. Lovell Obituary – The Spectrum and Daily News

Merton N. Lovell

St. George – Merton N. Lovell

The unforgettable man with the big smile, distinctive gait and funny stories wore his last pair of red socks on Monday, April 11, 2022. He slept peacefully at home. Merton Nielson Lovell was born on December 6, 1930 in Oak City, Utah to Reed and Zella Lovell. He attended Oak City Elementary and graduated from Delta High School in 1949. Mert said he had no idea what he would do with his life next. His brother Neil attended Dixie Junior College and told Mert he would get a scholarship if he chose to go. President Glenn E. Snow agreed. Mert only bought one book that year, but enjoyed playing baseball for college for which he earned his only A.

He was then called on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Eastern Canada. In Ottawa, he played basketball for two winters with the Mormon Elders team. Returning home, he was drafted and spent 15 months in Korea. serving at the post office of the American base in Busan.

When he got home he found there were few dateable girls, so his cousin Steve asked him to pick a girl from the phone book and Steve got him a date at the blind with Lael Hilton. They dated while she was graduating from high school and while she was attending BYU the following year. Mert returned to Dixie Junior College where he earned an associate’s degree. Courting St. George in Provo was difficult, but they were married at Manti Temple on June 21, 1956.

He wanted to go to Utah State but to stay married he went to BYU with Lael where he got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and political science. Lee Hafen, Dixie’s history teacher, died and Mert was hired over the phone to replace him. In January 1960 they moved to St. George and he began teaching at Dixie High and Dixie College combined.

His 32 years of teaching included 24 years at Dixie High School, four years at Pine View High School, and four years at Pine View Middle School, retiring in 1991. He taught United States history, American issues and consumer math, but his greatest joy was assistant football and basketball coach. They have been recognized four times in football and once in basketball. His coaching included sleeping on a double bed with Walt Brooks at the Roberts Hotel in Provo and converting Don Lay to shopping at DI. He didn’t share many details about being a tennis head coach because, as he said, “I didn’t know what love had to do with tennis.” Mert shared his love and knowledge of athletics with his students. He often sketched rooms on the board. Once, when Superintendent Peterson walked into his classroom, the schematic football game turned into Civil War battle lines. It says a lot that he was a beloved teacher, as his students never called him Mr. Lovell. It was always Mert with everyone. One of his students, also a teacher and calling himself the “official spokesperson for the little people”, said: “We give them an education to improve their lives, to enable them to see things differently, to make sense of what they see and to make them better people. That’s what you did for me. His best friend was Wally Mathis with whom he taught, coached and worked on the Arizona Strip for many years. He was always there for Mert except when Mert had to speak at his funeral instead of the other way around as planned. The tradition of wearing only red socks originated after he spoke at a pep assembly and told students he would stomp the Cedar Redmen all night.

After a son involved the parents in a convenience store, Mert’s students suggested it be named Mert’s Place. After school he cooked some chicken and fast food there and stocked the shelves in the cooler at night when it was locked. At first, he also invested part of his teaching salary to help pay the store’s bills. He often said that it wouldn’t be so bad to work there if you didn’t have to pay for it. But he enjoyed seeing many of his former students again and making new friends there.

For twelve summers, Mert worked on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fire crews on the Arizona strip. He was also director of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) there for five summers.

His church life mirrored his school life; most of it had to do with the younger generation. He had a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and, like Christ, he always sought that one. He was a councilor in a bishopric as well as bishop of a university district, bishop of passage and bishop of a regular district. He said they were as different as the three degrees of glory. He served in the Dixie College Stake for over 12 years. He has also served as a finance clerk, stake auditor, counselor in a bishopric, member of two high councils, and member of a stake presidency, as well as numerous teaching callings. Later, he taught the 11-year-old Blazers what he called the unruly dickheads. Mert and Lael served in the California Mission office in San Fernando with President Steven Snow, whom he had taught and coached in high school.

Mert is survived by his wife Lael, their four children, Randy (Kaylene), Scott (Liz) and Shannon, all of St. George and Terry (Kerry) of Orlando, Florida, and many loving parents. He also has eight grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. He was predeceased by his parents, brothers Bruce, Neil and baby Dan, and one sister, Merlene Schmutz.

Funeral services will be Saturday, April 23 at 11:00 a.m. at LDS St. George East Stake Center, 449 S. 300 E. Visitation will be Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Spilsbury Mortuary and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Chapel . Interment will take place at Pine Valley Cemetery at approximately 3:30 p.m. The service’s live stream will be available at In lieu of flowers, please give a flower or a hug to a loved one or contribute to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Humanitarian Fund. Memories can be shared at Memories of Mert.

Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. 435-673-2454. Family and friends are invited to sign Mert’s online guestbook at

Posted on April 15, 2022

Posted in The Spectrum

service information


The first visitation will be at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. The second visit will be at the LDS St. George East Stake Center, 449 S 300 E, St. George, Utah

April 22, 2022 to 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.


The first visitation will be at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. The second visit will be at the LDS St. George East Stake Center, 449 S 300 E, St. George, Utah

April 23, 2022 to 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.


LDS St. George East Stake Center, 449 S 300 E, St. George, Utah

April 23, 2022 to 11:00


Pine Valley Cemetery

April 23, 2022 to 3:30 p.m.

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