Valentin Francis Mersol

March 28, 1934 ~ May 22, 2018 (age 84)

Valentin F. Mersol, M.D., Local ENT Led Storied Life


Valentin F. Mersol, who arrived as a refugee from Yugoslavia 1949 and practiced medicine here for 50 years, has died. He was 84.

Mersol was born on March 28, 1934 in Ljubljana, Slovenia in what was then Yugoslavia. During World War II, following invasion by Italy and Germany, he delighted in playing pranks on the occupying Axis troops.  In February, 1945, Mersol survived the accidental aerial bombing of his family’s home when the bomb exploded in a nearby closet.

At the close of World War II, the family learned that they were slated to be executed by Marshall Tito’s Communist partisans and fled to a makeshift refugee camp in southern Austria. On June 4, 1945, Mersol’s father negotiated an agreement by the British military not to deport the large number of Yugoslavians fleeing the country to avoid persecution, an account memorialized in the book “Slovenia 1945” by John Corsellis. The family spent the next four years in refugee camps in Lienz and Spittal-an-der-Drau Austria under the aegis of the United Nations Refugee Relief Agency (UNRRA). There, Mersol’s father, an American-educated public health expert, became the camp administrator. The refugees set up a community that included theater, excellent schools, and outdoor activities.

In 1949, Mersol’s family secured passage to the United States sponsored by residents of Rock Creek in Ashtabula County. They moved to a home at E.62nd and St. Clair the following year. There, Mersol graduated from Benedictine High School and then from Western Reserve University. During that time, he sang in the chorus of the Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of conductor George Szell. He became a naturalized U.S. Citizen in 1954. Afterwards, he worked as a laboratory technician at the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s office. He was there at the time of the Marilyn Sheppard murder and was a lifelong passionate believer that Sam Sheppard was responsible for the crime.

Mersol attended the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and graduated in 1959. He interned at St. Vincent Charity Hospital, where he met his future wife, Patricia Macko. Following an ENT residency in Houston, Mersol went into the U.S. Public Health Service in Louisiana, achieving the equivalent Naval rank of Lieutenant Commander. There, he was responsible for one of the last leprosy treatment centers in the United States and closed the infamous leper colony on the island of Molokai, Hawaii.

Mersol moved back to Cleveland in 1966. During his long ENT career, he worked at Marymount Hospital, St. Vincent Charity, Brentwood, and other area hospitals, treating thousands of patients. In 1979, he became chief of staff at St. Alexis Hospital. He ultimately retired in 2009 at the age of 75, but travel and spoke to raise awareness of post-war atrocities committed by Communist forces in Eastern Europe.

Mersol was renowned for his even temper and sense of humor both with patients and in the operating room. He had a wide array of interests that included music, history, beekeeping, woodworking, and antique power equipment.

Mersol’s wife of 53 years, Patricia, passed away in 2013. They are survived by their six children, Gregory Mersol, Joseph Mersol, Kathryn Williams, Caryn Marshall, Marc Mersol, and Lea Sheptak, and by their ten grandchildren.

Funeral Mass will be 11:00 AM. Saturday May 26th at St. Joan of Arc Church 496 E. Washington St. Chagrin Falls, OH. with a reception to follow.

Memorial donations can be made in his name to St. Vitus Parish, 6019 Lausche Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44103.

Arrangements by Stroud-Lawrence Funeral Home Chagrin Falls, OH.

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