Community Life

Obituary: Robert N. Merkle, 88, Former Director of Scotch Plains TV-34

Robert N. Merkle, former director of TV-34 in Scotch Plains
EDISON, NJ -- Robert N. Merkle, 88, died Thursday, October 26, 2017, at Haven Hospice at JFK Medical Center, Edison.  Born in New York, NY, son of Margaret and Nicholas Merkle, he lived in New York and served in the Korean War as a Sergeant in the US Army.
Upon his return from Korea, he began his career at Bell Laboratories, New York before being transferred to Murray Hill, NJ in 1957. His 36-year career included the transatlantic cable project deployed on the C.S. Long Lines and work on lasers and thin films.
He also was one of the contributors to landing art on the moon in 1969 via the Apollo 12 space mission.  Dubbed the “The Moon Museum” by the 2010 PBS show History Detectives, the thin film chip produced by Robert included the art of Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, John Chamberlain, Forrest Myers and David Novros. Series episodes can be found at and
Robert was frequently heard playing upright bass and bass guitar in many groups including the Big Band sounds of Bell Labs, Ted Stoepel Big Band and played in small groups in the Plainfield area entertaining seniors in health care facilities including AristaCare at Norwood Terrace in North Plainfield.
Robert was also an avid sound and audio engineer involved in local community TV stations including Piscataway PCTV, culminating as director of TV-34 in Scotch Plains, NJ.  He received a proclamation 2002 issued jointly by NJ State Assembly and Senate for effective leadership in the development of services to the community of Scotch Plains, including being the first community to televise live borough council meetings with live call-in questions.
He was a member of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church in Plainfield, serving as an Usher and then Eucharistic Minister.  He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Johanna, and two children and their spouses, son Robert N. Merkle, Jr. and daughter-in-law Kathleen Merkle; daughter Johanna Salvemini and son-in-law, Domenick Salvemini.  He is also survived by two grandchildren Elisa and Nicholas Salvemini.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Nov. 8, at St. Bernard and St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church, in Plainfield. The family wiIl receive friends and family at 11:30 a.m. followed by a memorial mass at 12:00 noon. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations may be made in Robert’s memory to St. Bernard/St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church, 368 Sumner Ave., Plainfield, NJ, 07062, or Haven Hospice at JFK Medical Center Foundation, 65 James Street, Edison, NJ 08818 or online at

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