Merritt Russell Yohnka, resident of California, passed away on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. He was a loving and devoted husband, father, son, relative and friend who was a gifted athlete and talented stunt coordinator who loved helping everyone.
Merritt was born April 1, 1958, in Chebanse. His parents were Marilyn Yohnka, and Norm Yohnka.
He graduated from Central High School where he lettered in three sports: baseball, basketball and track, and he was MVP in all three sports. He went to Western Illinois University in Macomb, where he joined Delta Sigma Phi.
Merritt’s dream was to go to Hollywood to be a stuntman, and with drive, heart and determination, Merritt made his dream come true. He went to Los Angeles in the early 1980s.
He was nominated for several awards and was honored when he received the Emmy Awards in 2008 and 2009. formers and amazing actors creating actions scenes that were exciting and safe. They loved working with him and always had incredible things to say about him.
Merritt remained a hometown boy at heart which endeared so many people to him. During his career he never forgot about his family and friends back home in Chebanse, who he loved and enjoyed visiting often. He also enjoyed supporting and helping the farm community back home. Starting out as a stuntman, he enjoyed the opportunity to do stunts throughout his career. He can be seen playing stunt roles in many films and television shows, and a few fun ones are “Real Bullets,” “Friends with Benefits,” “The Italian Job” and a comical part that appeared in the out takes of “Men In Black II.” He felt so blessed to have a career that spanned four decades doing something he really enjoyed with people he so respected and loved.
Surviving are his loving wife of 24 years, Cindy, of Sherwood Forest; devoted children, Emily, Steven and Garrett, of Sherwood Forest; his mother, Marilyn Yohnka, of Chebanse, and father, Norman Yohnka, of Danforth; siblings, Rodney Siebring deceased (Diane), of Ashkum, Randy Siebring (Karen), of Macomb, Bruce Siebring (Claudia), of Ashkum, Brad Yohnka (Peggy), of Monticello, and Brent Siebring (Christine), of Bloomington; mother-in law, Gloria Cunningham (Bill deceased); sister-in-law, Cathy Aita (Bob); brother-in-law, Bruce Cunningham (Stacey); and numerous relatives and friends.
There will be a small private family service at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, where he will be laid to rest. A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.