Malibu's original judge, John J. Merrick, died Tuesday at the age of 93.
A celebration of life service is set for noon Saturday, Aug. 25 at the George Elkins Auditorium at .
His son Brian Merrick, who is a realtor in Malibu, said his father's death was not unexpected.
"He was a loving father and a good friend. We were pretty close he and I, more than the others," said Brian Merrick, who has seven other siblings.
Brian Merrick added that his father had been in poor health for some time as he got older.
"The doctors and everybody wrote him off three or four years ago … We all just refused to believe that," Brian Merrick said. "We worked with him. Those were some of the best three or four years that we’ve had."
The Merrick family has lived in Malibu since 1945 on Latigo Beach and Point Dume.
Brian Merrick said it was difficult to sum up his father's life in a few words because he touched so many lives.
"When nobody wanted to be in Malibu, he was here. Before there was a city council, he pretty much ran the town. He was the judge. The county always consulted with him with the things that they were doing. He’s responsible for so many things that we see today in modern Malibu," Brian Merrick said.
The Merrick family released the following obituary:
Honorable Judge John J Merrick of Malibu passed away peacefully on the morning of July 31, 2012.
Born February 10, 1919 in New Haven, CT and raised in the Bronx he was the first born son of Irish immigrants. During World War II as a commander of a tank destroyer unit, John was shipped out to Southern California after Pearl Harbor where his job was to protect the coastline from Manhattan Beach to Malibu.
At the conclusion of the war John elected to remain in California and make Malibu his home. He worked as a trust officer for Beverly Hills National Bank and as a comedy writer for the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy radio show. A graduate of Southwestern School of Law in Los Angeles John opened a private practice in Beverly Hills until 1964 when he was elected Judge of the Malibu Judicial District where he served on the Bench for 22 years.
Known as "The Law West of Topanga" during his judgeship he participated in many famous cases including signing of the search warrant for Charles Manson and subsequent trials of Manson Family members. His crowning achievement in Law was a stint on the California Appellate Court where he wrote several published legal opinions.
As a Justice, John presided over many high profile wedding ceremonies including Lee Marvin, Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn and Madonna.
In addition to his public duties he taught at Pepperdine University and Santa Monica College. Malibu was his true love and he was one of Malibu's founding fathers.
John started and founded several charitable organizations throughout Malibu including the Optimist Club, Pepperdine Crest Associates, Malibu Historical Society, Heart Association, Malibu Lagoon Museum, and the Township Council.
With a keen interest in the history of Malibu from the Chumash to the Rindges, he wrote many books and was cited as the foremost historian of Malibu.
John, a 66 year resident of Latigo Beach and Point Dume, was preceded in death by his wife Marge Merrick and is survived by his eight children: Shelly Merrick, Maria Merrick, Vicki Curran, John Merrick, Liz Klein, Robert Rowland, Patricia Howard, Brian Merrick, countless grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers the family asked that a donation be made to the "John Merrick Law Scholarship" at Pepperdine University School of Law, which is awarded to students with an interest in public service. Donations can be sent to Pepperdine School of Law, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu Ca 90263-4633; Attn: John Merrick Law Scholarship/Erin Herrera.