American Patriotic 10

Merlin Cooley Lewis

June 24, 1941 ~ May 13, 2020 (age 78)

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Merlin Cooley Lewis, 78, of Morehead City, was carried by the Lord to his heavenly home Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

Due to COVID-19 physical distancing mandates, the family is working to bring together a celebration of his life. Details will be announced at a later date.

Cooley spent the last 15 years of his retirement working part time for Kittrell Auto Parts, singing while he worked and carrying dog treats in his pocket as he delivered parts to dealerships and automotive shops. Cooley’s career included more than 20 years in the car business. It began at H&N Chevrolet, where he started as a salesperson and left as a general manager. He retired from Kurtis Chevrolet where he took great pride in serving his customers from Carteret County and beyond.

Cooley Lewis is a Carteret County legend! In the 80s, he and his friends ran the beach like no one else ever could or will again. At one time, he even had his own club, Beach Fever, on the Circle. Prior to that, Cooley worked at the State Port Authority as the tobacco superintendent. He was the best man for the job as he grew up in the Wilson, Elm City and Rocky Mount area, and in his own words, “knew tobacco from the seed bed to the manufacturer, including priming, barning and hauling it to market in the middle of the night.” Cooley Lewis was also a U.S. veteran, serving six years in the U.S. Army National Guard. He was a car enthusiast, and in his teen years he never lost a race. And of course, anyone who knew Cooley knew that he was the hugest Elvis fan there’s ever been. He knew every word to every song and could perform it just like him. We have no doubt that he is singing along, right now, with the King of Rock N Roll.

Cooley was a kind spirit with a loving soul. He cared for the animals, feeding everything from squirrels, birds, possums, raccoons and, most recently, a turtle he named Pete and fed strawberries.

Cooley Lewis died peacefully in his sleep. He was a side sleeper but on the morning of May 13th he was found sleeping on his back with his arms neatly crossed over his chest. Just as Jesus neatly folded his napkin when he left the tomb, he crossed Cooley’s arms to let us know he was with the Lord.

He is reunited with his mother, Nell C. Lewis; father, Ishmeal Merlin Lewis; his beloved brother in law, Bobby Morgan; and a host of loved ones.

Cooley loved and was loved by so many, especially his daughter, Karen Lewis, the apple of his eye; his granddaughter, Jasa Lewis, the apple of his other eye; his sister and best friend, Betty Morgan; his two nephews, which made him so proud, Tod Morgan, wife Courtney Stilley Morgan and children Talley Grace and Michael, and Mark Morgan and children Kate and Ellie Morgan; and his cousins, Wayne Parrish and Cindy Shearer and family.

Cooley Lewis will be deeply missed and his memory forever cherished. 

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. He is like a tree planted along the riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water-a tree not bothered by the heat nor worried by long months of drought. Its leaves stay green and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you honor Cooley’s heart for animals by donating to your local animal shelter.

Family and friends are welcome to submit online condolences at

Arrangements by Munden Funeral Home and Crematory in Morehead City, NC. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Merlin Cooley Lewis, please visit our floral store.



Time: TBD to TBD

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