Merritt Fenner, Iroquois, South Dakota, is a native of Beadle County, and has always lived in the same community. A successful farmer Fenner is best known for his interest in community affairs and for his concern on how changes might effect the future welfare of people in his community.
He is the kind of a man who thinks through a situation, makes a decision, and then defends it with enthusiasm. His opinions are respected, even by those who do not agree with him.
Fenner was a director for the Mitchell-Huron Production Credit Association for 22 years and a director of the Federal Land Bank Association of Huron for 12 years prior to being named to the Board of directors for the Omaha Farm Credit Banks in 1964.
He has been active in the Beadle County Crop Improvement Association, 4-H work, American Legion Post 280 at Iroquois, the District Board of Soil Conservation Supervisors for Beadle County, and the County Extension Board. He has been a township clerk, and is now township treasurer.
The family has always been very active in the Methodist Church of Esmond. Mr. Fenner has held most local offices and was the first chairman of a four congregation Parish committee. As chairman he became very interested in projects which would broaden the responsibilities of laymen, allowing ordained pastors to serve larger rural areas.
Following the depression he and a neighbor were left sole owners of a local telephone company. Realizing that such a system was needed in the community they organized a community effort to rebuild it. The Iroquois-Belle Prairie Telephone system still operates on a cooperative basis and there are now 16 shareholders.
In 1955 he became interested in the history of the area in which he lives and has found this to be a fascinating hobby. He helped prepare a report on the 75th anniversary of Iroquois. This in turn led to an interest in the Pioneer Museum project at Huron.
Fenners have four children: Mary, now Mrs. Delmer Boyd lives in Huron, South Dakota; Frank and Wendell both farm near Iroquois, South Dakota; and Lowell is a truck operator at Winner, South Dakota.