Merritt Naylor and Betty Dorrel were married on November 22, 1939, after graduating from Springfield High School earlier that spring. Within five years their family was established with a son, Richard (Dick) and a daughter, Nancy. Merritt made his living working for Oxford Hardware and learned the skills of an electrician. However, his first love was farming so the family settled down on Betty’s grandmother’s farm in Springfield Township until 1957. The family then moved one mile to the Shirk farm in Brookville Township. Meanwhile, they kept their children involved in 4-H. After the move, Merritt was the leader for the Whitcomb Boosters where his children were members. He remained in that position until the time of his death. In the meantime, he began his tenure on the Franklin County Fair Board that lasted for fourteen years.
Betty was her children’s biggest cheerleader as she knew what it took as she herself was a ten year 4-H member. She shuffled her children’s fair schedules with her duties at the Whitcomb Methodist Church Food tent. In 1958, Dick won Grand Champion Steer, Grand Champion Barrow and Grand Champion Holstein. In later years, with encouragement from her parents, Nancy was selected as Miss Hoosier Hampshire Queen 1963.
Merritt’s sudden death in 1976 was life altering to Betty, but she remained on the farm through the blizzard and another extremely hard winter. She then moved from the family farm and found employment at People’s Trust Bank where she remained for fifteen years. In the meantime, she met Harry Hall from Champaign, Illinois on a cruise with her sisters and brother-in-law. They were married in 1988 and lived in her new home on Whitcomb Road. Harry soon learned Betty’s country ways, and they lived there happily until his death in 1998.
Betty was a pillar of the Whitcomb community. If one were lucky, they got to sample some of her cinnamon rolls which she contended she baked as her therapy. She was surrounded by her children and their spouses, six grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. Nancy continued the 4-H legacy, as she was a 4-H advisor for her daughters for twenty years. Now Paige, Nancy’s oldest daughter, is an advisor for her daughter. Continuing the legacy as well, the Merritt Naylor Family has presented an award at the Franklin County Fair for the Grand Champion Barrow for the last thirty-four years.
Betty passed away on August 1, 2011, at the age of eighty-nine. During their lives, Merritt and Betty believed in all endeavors of 4-H and instilled the importance of a college education in their children. Because of this belief, their children have established the Naylor Family Scholarship endowment in the Franklin County Community Foundation. When income from the fund is available, it will be used to provide scholarships to students who reside in Franklin County and have been involved in Franklin County 4-H.