Former New Hampshire Gov. Stephen Everett Merrill died at his home on Sept. 5, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 74.

He had been a longtime visitor to the Vineyard, which provided him an escape from public life and where he enjoyed endless hours relaxing and pursing the Island way of life.

Born in Norwich, Ct., on June 21, 1946, he grew up in Hampton and attended Winnacunnet High School there before entering the University of New Hampshire where he graduated in 1969, Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude. At university he was named colonel of his U.S. Air Force ROTC unit.

After completing legal studies in 1972 at Georgetown University, where he edited the law journal, he entered active military service and was named legal counsel to the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, attaining the rank of captain.

He then returned to his beloved home state in 1976 and became a partner at Devine, Millimet, Stahl and Branch where he was a trial lawyer. His entry to politics came as legal counsel and then chief of staff for Gov. John H. Sununu. Sununu appointed Merrill as New Hampshire’s 22nd Attorney General in 1985 where he served with distinction for four years. He then returned to private practice in Manchester with his friend and colleague, John T. Broderick Jr. The Merrill and Broderick firm also specialized in trial work.

Merrill was elected New Hampshire’s 77th governor in 1992. Widely popular, he served two terms. He was known for service and dedication to his state. He chaired U.S. Sen. Robert Dole’s 1996 presidential primary campaign. Citing his young family, he declined to seek a third term and instead returned to private practice with the national law firm of Bingham, Dana and Gould (later Bingham McCutchen) in Boston and was chairman of Bingham Consulting.

He is survived by his wife, Heather; two sons, Ian Merrill of Durham, N.H., and Stephen Merrill and his wife Karissa of Miami, Fla.; a brother Robert Merrill and family of South Carolina.

Stephen will be remembered with love and cherished by all who had the pleasure to know him, his intellect and sense of humor.

Donations can be made to Samaritan’s Purse, PO Box 3000, Boone, N.C. 28607 or online at