Christian 12

Robert Edward Merritt

March 27, 1927 ~ November 14, 2020 (age 93)


Mr. Robert Edward Merritt, 93, passed away Saturday, November 14, 2020, at his home in Winston-Salem.  He was born March 27, 1927, in Mount Airy, to Oscar K. Merritt and Catherine Hubbard Merritt.  He was preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Mary Louise Merritt Whitlock and Sarah Merritt Maurer; his brother, Oscar Merritt; and his grandson, Owen Starr Romer.  He is survived by his wife, Cama; and their children, Caroline Abbott (Tim), Har Simran Kaur Khalsa (Manjit), Ed Merritt (Liz), Mary Louise Vidas (Allan Staley), and Sallie Romer (Chip).  Robert and Cama had eight grandchildren, Rachel Abbott, Hannah Abbott, Sam Merritt, Kristina Merritt, Maria Vidas Zakariaa, George Vidas, Abel Romer, and Owen Starr Romer.  They also had six great-grandchildren, Gabe Merritt, Omar Zakariaa, Noor Zakariaa, Joud Zakariaa, Ione Hulbott, and Azura Hulbott.  Mr. Merritt attended North Main Street School and Mount Airy High School, where he graduated as president of the class of 1944.  He was a member of Central United Methodist Church and was active in Boy Scout Troop 38 at First Baptist Church.  He was an Eagle Scout, a member of the Order of the Arrow, and a counselor for several summers at Camp Lasater.  He served 20 months with the United States Navy, attaining the rating of Electronic Technician’s Mate Second Class.  He joined Joint Task Force One, which tested two atomic bombs at Bikini Atoll in 1946.  He graduated from North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State University) in 1949, with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering and had a year of graduate study with teaching fellowships in physics and engineering labs.  At State, he was a member and treasurer of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, where he designed the fraternity’s winning homecoming displays for four years.  In 1950, Mr. Merritt joined American Machine and Foundry Company’s development laboratory in Raleigh as an engineer.  He and Cava Mary (Cama) Clarkson were married in December 1951, after eight years of correspondence and courtship.  They were members of Saint Michael’s Episcopal Church in Raleigh.  In 1953, they moved to Mount Airy, where he worked for two years in Merritt Machine Shop, and in 1955 joined Renfro Hosiery Mills (now Renfro Corporation).  At Renfro, Merritt became president and CEO in 1965, a position he held until his retirement in 1992.  He applied engineering to the art of making socks and was awarded a number of patents that included a circular Raschel knitting machine for making fishnet stockings and an instrument for measuring the coefficient of friction of yarn.  He also designed a set of size forms for socks, which have become the industry standard.  He was most proud of the introduction of the “Quality of Work Life” program at Renfro, based on the idea that work can be enjoyed by everyone in the organization.  Merritt served on committees of the National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers and was chairman of its board of directors.  He was a member of the International Federation of Knitting Technologists and presented technical papers at their meetings.  On retirement from Renfro, he went abroad with the International Executive Service Corps as a volunteer consultant in Panama, Egypt, and Russia.  He was chairman of Renfro’s board of directors until 1999.  After graduation from the Executive Program at UNC, he taught in their Management Development Institutes.  He was a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University.  Mr. Merritt was a Sunday school teacher, lay reader, and member of the Vestry and Senior Warden of Trinity Episcopal in Mount Airy.  He was a member of the Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.  He was a long-time member and president of the Mount Airy Rotary Club.  He served as campaign chairman of the Mount Airy United Fund and helped raise money for the local hospice facility.  He was a charter member of the board of trustees of Surry Community College and served three terms as chairman.  He helped establish The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History and was involved with the formation of the Surry Arts Council, the Surry County Historical Society, and the Yadkin Valley Craft Guild.  He was a vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Surry County.  Since his early teens, Mr. Merritt was a photographer and was co-founder of the Mount Airy Photo Club.  The Merritts were avid travelers and took each grandchild on a foreign trip.  Robert and Cama moved to Arbor Acres retirement community in 2009 and joined Saint Anne’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem.  He continued photography in both places by providing pictures for their directories.  A service of worship and celebration of Robert’s life will be held at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and will only be available via Zoom (login information below) at 11:00 AM on Saturday, December 5, 2020.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, 2690 Fairlawn Drive, Winston-Salem, NC  27106; or Arbor Acres Resident Assistance Fund, 1240 Arbor Road, Winston-Salem, NC  27104.  Moody Funeral Services in Mount Airy is serving the family.  Online condolences may be made at


Topic:  Robert Merritt’s Memorial Service

Time:  Saturday, December 5, 2020, at 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID:  872 7373 8769

Passcode:  501361


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