Merwin Carl Desens, 85, of Overland Park, Kansas, entered heaven on October 22, 2021 after a brief, courageous battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his family at his time of death and passed away peacefully.
“Merv” lived his life as a servant to his Lord and to others and was beloved by all who knew him. He always had a smile on his face and a kind, encouraging word often accompanied by a clever joke or a witty one-liner. Merv will always be remembered for his love and devotion to his Lord, his family, and anyone in need. One of his favorite Bible verses from Joshua 24:15 succinctly defines Merv’s life and legacy: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Merv was born in 1936 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of the late Carl and Emily Desens. He was preceded in death by his older brother Robert and his younger sister Karen. After graduating from Lutheran High School and Concordia University Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Merv attended Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri and graduated in 1959. It was there that he met Harriet (nee Mennicke), the love of his life, who was attending the Lutheran School of Nursing in St. Louis at the same time. They were married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Illinois in 1959.
Merv was ordained as a Lutheran minister in 1959 and immediately began his ministry at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He accepted a call to lead the Zion Lutheran congregation in Lyons, Illinois in 1965, and then was pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri from 1970 to 1975. At that point, Merv accepted a call to Monett, Missouri where he led St. John’s Lutheran congregation for the next 17 years. Merv had one final stop as a senior pastor, accepting a call in 1992 to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Missouri where he retired in 2000 after 42 years of full-time ministry. He remained active throughout his retirement, including preaching part-time at various churches in the Kansas City area. He and Harriet were members of Our Saviour Lutheran Church, where they also volunteered at the OSL Food Pantry. Since 2015 Merv and Harriet have been active residents of Overland Park Place in Overland Park, Kansas where Merv also led worship services.
In addition to Harriet, his wife of 62 years, Merv is survived by his children Carl (Cathy) of Prairie Grove, Arkansas; Cheryl of Kansas City, Missouri; Craig (Karen) of Geneva, Illinois; Cindy Trivilino (Mark) of Gardner, Kansas; and Chris (Karen) of High Ridge, Missouri; his grandchildren Taylor (Justin), Jordan (Andy), Katie, Nathan, Michael, Julian, Madi, and Katie; one great-granddaughter, Emma; as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins who knew him as “Uncle Butch.”

Visitation will be held at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Kansas from 12:30 – 2:30 pm on Sunday, November 7th, 2021. A service of celebration also will be held at Our Saviour on November 8th at 11 am, preceded by visitation at 10 am. In honor of the departed and in compliance with county ordinance, masks are required regardless of vaccination status.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Our Saviour Lutheran Church Food Pantry ( or Cancer Action (

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