Merrill and Charlene Ostrus Staton
Merrill and Charlene Ostrus Staton Scholarship
Dr. Merrill Staton was born five miles south of Wiota, in January 1919. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Northwest Missouri State University in 1940. Dr. Staton enlisted in the Navy Air Corps the same year he graduated, and flew over 30 types of aircraft during his service. In 1943, Dr. Staton married Charlene "Sherry" Barnes. Sherry is also a graduate of NWMSU.
After the war, Dr. Staton received his master's of arts degree from Columbia University Teachers College in 1948, and his doctorate in education from Columbia in 1949. The Statons moved to Alpine, NY in 1955. In 1956, a son, Joe, was born and a second son, Jeff, was born in 1959.
In 1956, Dr. Staton founded the Alpine Community Chorus. During the 1950s, his professional choral group, the Merrill Staton Voices, was acclaimed as one of the finest professional groups on TV and recordings. He was music director and featured his professional singers on many early TV shows such as Ernie Kovaks, Hallmark shows, TV specials on Lerner and Lowe and Cole Porter.
He conducted his choral group in the first live telecast from Lincoln Center. His career includes singing on TV and recording with such conductors as Toscanini, Kousevitsky and Bernstein, touring with the Paul Witeman Band and singing in the Robert Shaw Chorale, as well as singing backup for pop vocalists such as Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, and Nat "King" Cole.
Sherry passed away in 1970 after a long battle with cancer. Merrill established a scholarship in her name in 1973. Dr. Staton married Barbara McFarlane Rustin in 1974, becoming stepfather to daughters, Ginny and Cathy. He and wife Barbara wrote a music textbook series, Music and You, which was published by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, Inc. and was used in thousands of elementary schools across the nation. He produced and conducted material for the 66 CDs that accompany the textbook series. He received two gold and eight platinum records for selling more than 10 million recordings.
Barbara added Merrill's name to Sherry's existing scholarship following his passing in October of 2000.
Scholarships associated with Merrill and Charlene Ostrus Staton