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About Our Namesake

Dr. Leonard E. Merrell


Dr. Leonard Merrell was born in Biloxi, Mississippi on April 15, 1945 to W.T. Merrell and Adaline Merrell. W.T. had been stationed in Biloxi during his time in World War II. At the age of two, the family of three moved back to northeast Texas, where both W.T. and Adaline had grown up. Shortly thereafter, his beloved sister Peggy was born. Dr. Merrell lived the next 16 years of his life on a 1,000-acre farm near Monkstown, Texas.

In between his farming responsibilities, Dr. Merrell attended school in nearby Honey Grove. He didn’t have the chance to play competitive basketball until his sophomore year in high school. But, he was a quick study. He made the varsity basketball team as a junior and helped lead the team to playoff appearances in back-to-back seasons, including a birth in two straight regional finals. Among other accomplishments, he was selected as an All-District basketball player, was President of his senior class, and a decorated trumpet player.

After graduating from Honey Grove High School, Dr. Merrell enrolled at nearby East Texas State University (now known as Texas A&M – Commerce). It was there that Dr. Merrell met the love of his life, the beautiful and talented Dr. Linda Kay Thomas. Dr. Merrell and Linda were married on January 31, 1969.

Dr. Merrell graduated from East Texas State with a BS degree in Agriculture and quickly began working on completing his Masters of Science Degree. He soon realized that farming wasn’t for him and began teaching and coaching, eventually finding his way to Garland, Texas. It was in Garland that Dr. Merrell found his calling as an educator. He wore a variety of hats within Garland ISD, from head principal at South Garland High School to Business Manager for the district. During their time in Garland, the Merrells were blessed with two boys, Brian and Mark. It was also during this time that Dr. Merrell received his Doctorate of Education from East Texas State University.
Dr. Merrell was named Superintendent of Schools in Sulphur Springs ISD in 1985. He remained in that role until he accepted a position as Superintendent of Schools in Texas City, Texas in 1988. Dr. Merrell served the students and community of Texas City for seven years. During that time, he helped pass the school district’s first major bond package, paving the way for a desperately needed facilities overhaul for most of the district.

Dr. Merrell was named Superintendent of Schools in Katy ISD in 1995. When he arrived in Katy, the district was home to three 5A high schools and 24,000 students. In his twelve years of service to Katy ISD, the district was one of the fastest growing districts in the State of Texas. Dr. Merrell oversaw this tremendous growth while maintaining Katy ISD’s status as one of the premier public school districts in Texas. By the time of his retirement in 2007, Katy ISD had grown to over 51,000 students and included six 6A high schools (with several more on the way). Despite this unprecedented growth, Katy ISD’s reputation for providing the highest quality public education services to its students remains second to none.

Over the years, Dr. Merrell has been recognized by countless organizations for his selfless service to students. Those accolades include, among numerous others: (1) Katy Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year (2004); (2) AASA Texas State Superintendent of the Year (1998); and (3) Texas A&M Commerce Distinguished Alumni (2015). 

Dr. Merrell currently resides in Bryan, Texas with Linda. His oldest son, Dr. Brian Merrell is an administrator in Bryan ISD. Brian and his wife Crista (who is a counselor in Bryan ISD) have seven children. Dr. Merrell’s youngest son, Mark, is an attorney in Houston. Mark’s wife, Allison, is the head volleyball coach at Tompkins High School. Mark and Allison have four children, giving Linda and Leonard a total of 11 grandchildren.