Robert H. Mereness, 90, of Alexandria, VA., formerly of Lima, VA, died Dec. 15, 2010, at Goodwin House Retirement Community, Alexandria, VA., of complications related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
He was born in Marion. He had been married to Kathryn Carnes, formerly of Lima, who survives in San Antonio. He then married Kathleen Wharton, formerly of McAllen, Texas, who survives in Alexandria, Va.
Mr. Mereness retired as a captain from the Navy. During World War II, he served with the amphibious forces participating in the invasions of Sicily and Salerno before becoming a training officer at the Navy's amphibious training base at Fort Piece, Fla. He later served in the Pacific aboard amphibious attack transport ships. In 1946, he was selected as a public information specialist and assigned as one of the first 40 members to the Navy Department Office of Public Relations (known as the 40 Thieves). Later public affairs assignments included duties on the staffs of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Pacific Command in Hawaii; Military Sea Transportation Service, London; Naval Training Center and Eleventh Naval District, San Diego; Atlantic Fleet and Atlantic Command, Norfolk, Va.; and U.S. Naval Forces Europe, London. His last assignment before retirement in 1966 was with the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. He served as a public affairs officer with the Naval Air Task Forces during the Korean War and was public affairs officer for the Atlantic Command during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Following his retirement, he became assistant to the president of the Shipbuilders Council of America and later executive director of the Asbestos Information Association of North America. He established his own public relations firm in 1982 and served as Director of Advertising and Corporate Relations for the Navy League of the United States during the subsequent five years. He attended Denison University and graduated from Antioch College before being commissioned as an ensign at Notre Dame University Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1942. He was a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College.
He was active in civic affairs for the city of Alexandria, Va., a volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America and the National Capital United Way, and was involved in various Navy public affairs activities. He was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, Va., where he served as an elder. He was also a member of the Navy League of the United States, the Retired Officers Association and the Beta Theta Pi social fraternity.
Survivors also include three sons, Robert C. Mereness, from his first marriage, and James Mereness and Jeremy Mereness, all of Alexandria, Va.; a granddaughter, Melissa Monolo, of Galivants Ferry, S.C. Services were held Jan. 15, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, Va. Burial was in the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va