It is with a heavy heart that I reach out to tell you that we have lost Templeton Rye Master Distiller Meryl Kerkhoff. Meryl died at Manning Hospital, surrounded by his family. I really struggle to put into words how much we all admired this great man. He will be missed dearly.
Meryl was a child of the Depression, born a mile from our current distillery in Templeton in 1929 to Alphonse and Frances (Bluml) Kerkhoff. He attended Sacred Heart School in Templeton and graduated in 1946. Meryl fought in Korea for two years and went on to a successful career as a farmer and auctioneer. He and his wife Imelda had seven children and 14 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Ohde Funeral Home in Manning, Iowa.
Meryl had a presence that was unmistakable. He was a true gentleman and a man of great stature, both in size and in character. I will always remember how his huge hands, strengthened by a lifetime of farming, would totally engulf those of anyone who would shake them. He dressed well, yet modestly, and had his signature Templeton Rye cap slightly tilted, or “a little cocky” as he would say.
Meryl had a sense of humor and his own language that greatly amused the rest of our team. A nice place was “Uptown” and when things were going well we were “Cadillacing.” He was a caring man who was always excited to see you and would ask, “So, how’ve things been going?” Meryl was a patient man and was more likely to listen than to talk. He gave Keith and I great advice over the years and was always very thorough about issues that impacted our company.
Obviously things will continue at Templeton Rye and Keith has been handling the day-to-day duties for sometime. Genetics are a powerful thing I guess, as I look at what I have written about Meryl, I could very well be describing Keith.
Please keep Meryl, Imelda, Keith and all of the Kerkhoff family in your thoughts and prayers.
At Meryl’s request, we got together a couple of weeks ago to record Meryl, Keith and I reminiscing about some of our experiences with the company. We video taped a portion of the discussion which can be seen below.
Scott Bush, President, Templeton Rye
ABOVE: A pair of legends. Templeton Rye Master Distillery Meryl Kerkhoff with Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell.