Tribute to John Henry Merriweather
by Michael L Merriweather

A  young  boy  was  trying  to  move  a  rock  that  was  oh  so  big  for  someone  his  size  to  move!!  He  pushed  and  pushed  and  pulled  and  pulled  and  tugged… alas…  to  no  avail !!  Finally, feeling  defeated, the  boy  sat  down. The  boy’s  father  had  been  watching  this  struggle from  a  distance  with  great  admiration  for  his  young  son’s  determination.  He  went  over  to  his  son  and  asked  him, “what’s  wrong?” The  young  boy  replied, “you  see, Father, I  have  tried  EVERYTHING  to  move  this  rock  and  it  won’t  budge.  The  father  asked, “Son, are  you  sure  you  have  tried  EVERYTHING?”  With  frustration  and  irritation  building  on  the  boy’s  face, he  loudly  proclaimed, “YES, FATHER, I  HAVE  TRIED  EVERYTHING!”  The  father  put  his  arm  around  his  son  and  said  very  tenderly, “no, my  son, you have  not  tried  EVERYTHING!  You   have  not  asked  me  for  MY  help. "

In  times  like  these  when  we  have done  all  we  think  we  can  do, we  must  ask  our  Heavenly  Father  for  help, for  comfort,  and  for  UNDERSTANDING. My  daddy  was  my  best  friend  and  my  greatest  fan.  He  instilled  in  me  value  and  self-worth  and  taught  me  to  be , above  all,  A  GOD-FEARING  MAN!!  My  dad  prepared  me  to  be  someone  SPECIAL!  He  was  always  encouraging  me  and  pushing  me  to  always  strive  to  do  better.  

I  remember  my  first  years  in  the  pros.  I  used  to  WRITE  to  my  mom every  chance  I  got… but  I  used  to  CALL  my  daddy!!  He would, of  course,  CRITIQUE   the  game!  I  remember  one  year  I  was  averaging  one  sack  per  game.  I  would  call  home  so  proud  and  Daddy  would  say, “You  did  okay… but  YOU CAN DO BETTER!!”  

Once  I called  I  was  even  prouder… I said  to  myself, “I’ve  got  him  this  time!!”  He  answered  the  phone  and  I  said, “HEY  DAD!  This  game  I got  2  sacks,  10  tackles,  an  interception  ANNNNDDD  PLAYER  OF  THE  WEEK!!!!” I  was  smug  as  I  awaited  his  response.  He  said, “That’s  not  too bad, Son, matter  of  fact  that’s  pretty  good… BUT  YOU  CAN  DO  BETTER!”

It’s  not  that  he  was  not  proud  of  me.  Just  that  he  did  not  want  me  to  rest  on  my  laurels…  He  wanted  me  to  continue  to  work  harder  and  harder  and  no  matter  how  good  I  got, he  wanted  ME  TO  WANT  to  do  better. He  did  not  look  at  the  accomplishments  this  man made, but  rather  on  the  potential  of  that  this  man  could  become!!…. and  I  loved  him  for  that.  

One  of  my  greatest  feelings  was  being  drafted  in  the  3rd  round  by  the  Pittsburgh  Steelers… Joy… elation…  and  a  great  sense  of  accomplishment.  Another  great  feeling  was  going  3  times  to  the  Pro-Bowl. Being  drafted  is  one  thing, but  to  be  chosen  to  the  Pro  Bowl, you have  to  be  someone  special… you  have  to  be  strong, you  have  to  be  very good… and you  have  to  be  WORTHY!! 

I  asked  God, “Lord… why  did  you  take  my  daddy?”  Even  at  40  years  old,  it  was  great  pain  to  bear.  Then  God  said  to  me, “MICHAEL! Everything  will  be  OKAY!!  For  you  see, my child,  I am  building  my  own  team  of  All-Stars  and  John  Merriweather  is  MY  #1  DRAFT  PICK!!”  The  He  said  to  me, “You  see  I  was  looking  for  a  MAN  to  lead  this  squad  to  victory  over  the  enemy.  And  I  needed  a  special  man,  a  strong  man,  a  WORTHY  man!!  Someone  kind, gentle, loving  and  patient.  And  Michael, not  to  worry,  he  is  on  the  STARTING  TEAM!  You  and  your  family  will  see  him  again.”

“In  the  meantime, look up, I’m  here! Look up!  Look  to  Jesus, the  author,  and  publisher  of  your  faith.  Look  up!  Be  confident  of  this:

“That  He  who  begun  a  good  work  in  you  will perform  it  unto  the  last  day  of  Jesus  Christ.”  

My  father  did  not  leave  a  physical inheritance.  He  did  not  have  a  lot  of  money  or  material  wealth.  What he  did  leave  was  a  LEGACY!!!  He  left  his  spirit  in  me,  my  children,  and  everyone  who  knew  him.  He  instilled  in  me  forgiveness, patience,  long-suffering  and  a  tender  heart. He  taught  me  to love  Jesus  Christ.  THESE  ARE  THE  RICHES  THAT  I  HAVE  INHERITED  and  they  are  PRICELESS!!  


Amazing Grace
John Newton c1770

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.



John Henry Merriweather was born on October 12, 1923 in Trenton, Kentucky to Milton Elijah and Flossie Clarke Merriweather. He was the second of seven children in this loving family. He was called home on June 3, 2001.

John’s family moved to Pembroke, Kentucky where he committed his life to Christ and was baptized a very early age. He was a distinguished graduate of Crispus Attucks High School and attended West Kentucky Junior College.

Vallejo, California became his final home where he and his wife raised six children. He was a member of St. Mark’s Baptist Church in Vallejo under the leadership of Pastor Herbert Bell and served on the Trustee Board.

John choose to support our nation’s defense by joining the United States Navy at age 19. In his 22-year career with the Navy, John achieved many accomplishments and noteworthy awards including becoming the Navy’s first Black Boiler Chief while serving on the USS Hancock.

After leaving the Navy, he made a career working at Unocal for 18 years. He was associated with the VFW, the American Legion, The Elks, The Fleet Reserve Association, and was a member of the East Bay Bowling Club. He also contributed to many charities.

He loved all sports and found a special love for fishing and bowling. One of the highlights of his life was following the professional career of his son, Michael Merriweather, who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings. In addition to being active in the community, John dedicated much of his retirement years to his family – specifically spending as much time as possible with his grandchildren.

Inheriting John’s passion for Christ and his legacy of love are: his wife Doris; his sisters Ernestine, Pearl, Barbara and Mary ("Maggie") and his brother Luther; his sons Darrell, Leonard, David and Michael, his daughters Ye’Von and Audrey and their mother Alma; his stepchildren Mart, Byron and Teresa; and a host of loving cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and devoted friends.

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