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Greencastle fire victim dies

Rodney Mervicker known as independent but friendly

Rodney Mervicker known as independent but friendly

May 29, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, PA. -- The man severely burned in Tuesday afternoon's fire on Williamson Avenue has died.

Rodney Mervicker, 54, was listed in critical condition at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center early Wednesday, but died later in the day, according to hospital officials.

Mervicker was flown to the Baltimore hospital after being pulled from his 39 Williamson Ave. apartment by firefighters at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Greencastle police said they believe the fire started when a smoldering cigarette ignited a living-room sofa.

Neighbors remembered "Merv" as a man who mostly kept to himself, yet was friendly when he got to know someone.

"He'd come off as standoffish, but at the same time, if I knocked on the door, we could sit and talk for hours," Keith Meyers said.

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Vonda Haney said she always assumed that after her neighbor's years of traveling with his role in military service, he was at the point in life where he wanted to live quietly and alone.

"He was a loner," she said. "He hardly left the apartment."

Meyers recalled that one of his last conversations with his neighbor regarded a visit from Mervicker's son, who lives in Thurmont, Md.

"Merv traveled extensively, so he knows a lot about the world. He knows a little bit about everything," Meyers said.

Mervicker, who was technologically savvy, worked at home doing transcriptions on the computer, Meyers and Haney said.

They said their neighbor was fiercely independent and grumbled when others tried to help him. However, they suspect he secretly enjoyed gestures like surprises of baked goods.

Haney remembers checking on Mervicker when he broke his foot.

"He was like, 'I don't want you worrying about me,'" she said.

Heat from the fire damaged other areas of the house, which was split into three apartments. The building, owned by Sharon Gray of Walkersville, Md., is north of the intersection of U.S. 11 and Pa. 16, behind Sunnyway Diner.

Meyers and Haney estimated that Mervicker lived in the apartment for about 13 years.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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