What is Hamilton's Academy of Grief and Loss?

Death and grief are common human experiences, yet these experiences tend to be different for every individual. As a result, Hamilton's Academy of Grief & Loss offers a wide variety of resources available to you and your family as you begin to work through your grief.
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Academy of Grief and Loss
Academy Events

Academy Events

Hamilton's Academy of Grief and Loss offers a variety of services to educate, support and connect with those who are grieving.
Community Events

Community Events

Hamilton's Funeral Homes host a variety of events to serve and give back to our community.

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Hamilton's Crematory
Des Moines, Iowa


Hamilton's near Highland Memory Gardens
121 NW 60th Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50313
(515) 289-2442

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Merle Wyant

Des Moines

Merle Lee Wyant was born to parents, Roy Lee and Betty (Miller) Wyant, on May 3, 1922 in Gillett Grove, Iowa. He grew up in Ida Grove, Iowa with his two sisters, Elsie and Evelyn. At age 17, he joined the U.S. Army and served from 1939 to 1944 in the Asiatic Pacific Campaign, leaving the service with the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Merle met Pauline F. Andrews, in 1940, and they married on February 1, 1944. Merle and Polly welcomed their first daughter, Linda Lee (Reynolds), on February 15, 1945. Their second daughter, Minda Lee Wyant, was born on November 12, 1958.

He joined the Des Moines Fire Department on March 1, 1950 and retired 27 years later with the rank of Lieutenant. He then went to work for Ray Townsend (of Townsend Engineering) as Building Maintenance Manager at The Park Fleur and worked for another 15 years.

Never one to sit around, Merle spent a lot of time helping family and friends with various projects. He earned the reputation “If Merle can’t fix it, it can’t be fixed.” Merle made many friends during his life and was always there to lend a hand or money to anyone in need.

Merle was a devoted family man. The family spent a lot of time together and went on many vacations, mostly to Lake Okoboji where they water-skied.

Merle joined the Za-Zig-Shrine to support its efforts to aid children. He became interested in the Mini-Bike Brigade and rode a small motorcycle in various parades. Later, he acquired and maintained an old fire truck, and he and his firemen friends would become the Fire Fighters Brigade and drive the truck in parades.

Merle and Polly’s family was enlarged with the addition of two sons from daughter Linda. Mark E. Reynolds and Chad Lee Reynolds were born on January 13, 1970 and May 3, 1971, respectively. Merle was so pleased that his youngest grandson was born on his birthday. Later, the family increased yet again with the addition of two great-grandchildren from grandson Chad. Alisha Rae Reynolds was born February 23, 2000, and Brett Lee Reynolds was born September 30, 2002. Through the generous monetary gifts from Merle and Polly to both of their daughters, daughter Linda was able to retire from her job and take care of her grandchildren until they started school. Merle and Polly came to visit them at Linda’s almost every day and derived great joy from them.

Merle and Polly spent many great times with friends. They had dinners (where Merle’s favorite dessert was Polly’s chocolate meringue pie) and played rousing card games and Trivial Pursuit. One time Merle came up with the line “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates” for the win in Trivial Pursuit, and it became a forever joke that he knew that.

On March 7, 2008, after 64 years of marriage, Merle lost his loving wife at home, literally in his arms. It was a very hard time for this close-knit family.

Merle lived at home for several years but then became somewhat disabled and went to live at a senior living facility. From there, he went to live in hospice at the Community Living Center of the Des Moines Veterans Facility. His daughters continued to see him almost every day, and he died with the knowledge that they would never forget what a great father they had, and that they would always love him.

The Veterans Administration literally saved Merle’s life twice, and the family asks that any contributions be made to the Des Moines Veterans Administration in Merle’s name, to help them continue their excellent work.

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