Merle H. Hildebrand

Merle H. Hildebrand was born on March 30, 1914, in New Castle, the only son of Robert Lawrence Hildebrand and Olive Studebaker Hildebrand.

After a lengthy illness, he passed away on Dec. 20, 2008. He was 94. He was one of four children in his family, with three sisters, Marjorie Headland of New Castle and Marian Parker of Hermitage, who survive him, and Ruth Provance, who preceded him in death. He was married to Annella M. Fletcher Hildebrand, his wife of 35 years, who also preceded him in death. He is survived by three children, James M. Hildebrand and his wife, Ruth, of Durham, N.C., Kenneth E. Hildebrand of Virginia Beach, Va., and David L. Hildebrand and his wife, Donna, of Warren, Pa. He is also survived by three grandchildren, James H. Hildebrand Jr. of Raleigh, N.C., Anne Hildebrand of Lititz, Pa., and Timothy Hildebrand of Lititz.

Mr. Hildebrand was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church in New Castle and resident of Lawrence County. He was a graduate of New Castle High School and later graduated from Grove City College with a bachelor's degree in history. He began his law school studies in 1935, graduated with a master's degree in law in 1938 from the University of Pittsburgh and was admitted to the practice of law in Pennsylvania in 1939. After his admission to practice, Mr. Hildebrand worked in a law partnership office with his father and another local attorney, Charles Patterson, until 1941. He then enlisted in the armed services and from 1941 to 1945 served honorably with the 13th Army Air Corps in the Southwest Pacific against the Japanese on the islands of Guadalcanal, Morotai and the Philippines. Upon his discharge from the military, he then worked as a civilian attorney for the Army Corps of Engineers in western Pennsylvania from 1945 to 1947, assisting that agency in acquiring lands along the Allegheny River to construct flood control dams to protect the city of Pittsburgh from perennial, seasonal flooding of its streets. From 1947 to 1951, Mr. Hildebrand practiced law in Indiana, Pa. He then returned to New Castle in 1951 and practiced law in Lawrence County for the next nearly 58 years. Over this time, he also served his community as a chairman of the Democratic Party in Lawrence County, as a workman's compensation referee for the state of Pennsylvania, as a board member of the New Castle Sewer Treatment Authority and as the first district justice for the city of New Castle. He was very active in local politics and worked as a general practice attorney, either in partnership with other attorneys or in solo practice. He specialized in representing injured workers seeking workman's compensation benefits and, for a time, was the regional attorney for the United Steelworkers Union, overseeing cases arising out of injuries suffered by union members in 13 of their units. But, as a general practice attorney, he also regularly provided legal counsel and assistance to many clients over the years in a wide variety of areas of the law.

Visitation is 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Turner-Myers Funeral Home, 208 N. Jefferson St., where funeral services will also take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The Rev. John Yergan, a pastor of First Baptist Church, will officiate. Burial will be in Oak Park Cemetery.

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