Chamber Honors Businesses

Russell Merrill Receives the Lifetime Achievement Award

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, March 2, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Russell Merrill, president and co-founder of Tobey-Merrill Insurance Agency of Hampton, makes comments after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award during the The Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce 2010 Annual Dinner and Awards Presentation event at the Ashworth Hotel in Hampton on Thursday. At left is Chamber president "Doc" Noel, Geoff Merrill, and, at right, Dean Merrill.
[John Carden photo]

HAMPTON -- Russell Merrill was not only recognized at the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce's Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet Thursday night, but so was his family-owned company that is celebrating its 90th anniversary.

Merrill received the Lifetime Achievement Award, while Tobey & Merrill Insurance Company was given a Special Recognition Award in honor of its milestone anniversary. The awards were two of many given out during the annual event held at the Ashworth by the Sea hotel, that honors business leaders and members of the community.

"The only thing I want to say is that I am not 90 year's old," joked Russell, while accepting the award along with his son's Dean and Geoffrey Merrill. "But if you look on that table (pointing to what appeared to be a very old calculator), I remember buying that in the '40s. It still works today... but not right away."

BJ "Doc" Noel, president of the chamber, said the well-known local insurance company located of High Street was an original member of the chamber, which is celebrating its 95th year in existence. The company, he said, first opened its doors in 1920 and ever since has been living up to its mission, which is "protecting those things that matter the most to you."

Noel said he couldn't think of another person more deserving of this year's lifetime Achievement Award than Russell Merrill.

"He's a native son of Hampton who has done more in his life to give back to this town than one could possibly imagine," Noel said.

Merrill is a World War II veteran, charter member of the St. James Lodge, former building inspector and past president of Hampton Kiwanis and the New Hampshire Insurance Agent Association.

Noel said he's also a member of the Order of the Purple Duck, "Whatever that is," Noel said.

"I think there were a few things he left out," joked Merrill. "The Purple Duck is a wonderful organization, and I will say no more about it."

This year's prestigious Business of the Year award went to Seacoast Florist which is celebrating its 29th anniversary in downtown Hampton.

Owner Cindy Willis first opened the shop on Route 1 in Hampton on May 5, 1981, achieving a personal goal of owning her own florist shop by age 30.

"She is much more than a business person, but she exemplifies someone who gives back to their community in many ways," said Noel, who noted she is also deeply involved in chamber activities, including serving as chairman of the organization's board of directors in 1988.

"I'm just very honored to receive this," Willis said.

New Hampshire Distributors won this year's Seafood Festival Award, while the St. Vincent de Paul Food Panty won the Community Service Award.

"Without the volunteers and the business community, we would not be able to survive," said Phil Fili, president of the pantry.

The Faith in the Future Award was given to Jim Trainor, owner of the Boardwalk Café and Inn at Hampton Beach.

Noel explained the award is given to a business owner who invests or reinvest in the Hampton area.

Trainer purchased the establishment located at 139 Ocean Blvd., several years ago and completely renovated the 1918 building.

He turned the first floor of what was then a 24-room hotel into a 236 -seat successful restaurant at the beach.


There comes to every man ….. There comes to every nation …. A time to consider and-or reconsider the fact that a full half century now constitutes the past.

Hampton should be both proud and thankful that her native son, Russell A. Merrill, is in this position. A stellar basketball player, later an official; an alumni of Hampton Academy & High School (in the first class to go the full four years in the new building, Class of 1944); one of the first student pilots to solo from Hampton Airport [originally a gladiola farm(sic)]; a World War II veteran; Hampton American Legion Post 35 member; charter member of St. James Lodge; former building inspector; past-president of the Profile Auto League; past volunteer Hampton Fire Dept member; past president Hampton Kiwanis Club; past president N.H. Insurance Agents Association; Incorporator of the Exeter Hospital; member, board of directors, Hampton National Bank; Notary Public; past member & chairman Winnacunnet School Board; present moderator of Winnacunnet School District, two terms; holds license to operator tractor-trailer in the state of New Hampshire; former employee Runnymede Farm; devoted father of two sons and a daughter (in that order); treasurer of Tobey & Merrill Insurance Agency (unpaid ad not intended); Past president of the Hampton Academy Trustee Association (Headmaster Bruce Russell, take notice!!); former member Hampton Academy & High School Band (1st clarinet); former member, Hampton Oceanside Grange; member of Order of Purple Duck (?); East Coast Skate Board Arm Breakers, Assoc.; member and office holder First Congregational Church of Hampton; ex-deliverer of U.S. Mail, Hampton Post Office, Beach Division; member of Hampton Falls Fire Dept.; beloved husband of Ada (May Heal) Merrill, RN; and many other things that should not - dare not - cannot be brought out.

All of the foregoing is true, although some are spoofs. Russ is one heck of a man, a true friend and one whose judgment is solid. This is no spoof. The authors hope and are sure that the town prays that his devotion and dedication to all that is good is a never ending drive.

Happy Birthday, Russ!
Sincerely, from the many friends of Russell Addison Merrill
[Compiled by Howard Haddon Noyes, Class of 1947,
Hampton Academy & High School]