Merland “Merlin,” “Merle” L. Wangen

July 2, 2024


ONALASKA - Merland “Merlin,” “Merle” L. Wangen, 93, formerly of Sparta, WI, died peacefully at Springbrook Assisted Living in Onalaska, WI on Tuesday, July 2, 2024. He was the devoted husband of Marjorie S. (Fishbaugher) for 68 years and the proud father of Jaqueline (Peter) Oehler, Debera (Jon) Uy, Mark, Jolene (Grant) Huber, and Heidi (Paul) Burke. He was the loving grandfather of Megan Jones, Kaleigh Jones, Janie Uy, Alex Uy, Mark (Macy Johnson) Wangen, Luke (Shayla) Wangen, Greta Huber, Grace Huber, Tyler Burke, Emma Burke, Sam Burke; and the adoring great-grandfather of Madeline Wangen, Iris Wangen, Henry Wangen, and Vinny Wangen.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his seven older siblings.

Merle was a self-employed painting contractor owning MW Painters until his son, Mark, took over the business in 1999. Merle’s paint trucks were either bright red or orange, uniquely embellished by his own creative hand, and notoriously easy-to-spot on the roads in and around the Sparta - La Crosse area for over two decades. “Better Paint, Better Painters, Better Call!” Merle was the son of a Norwegian immigrant who traveled to America on the Lusitania in 1910. Like all good Norwegian-Americans, Merle was very proud of his heritage. In 1990, he finished writing a memoir which is well-researched, treasured by his family, and quite entertaining! He was a U.S. Air Force Veteran and a long-time member of Trinity Lutheran Church. Merle used to manage the Imperial gas station on Wisconsin Street; and he opened The Big Dipper restaurant on Water Street. He was a salesman for Cenex in the 1970’s. Merle was a master of DIY before DIY was a thing. He always enjoyed entertaining others with his witty comments and clever quips, preferably over a strong cup of hot coffee in his favorite “uff-da” mug.

A Memorial service will be held on Thursday July 11, 2024, at Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home and Cremation, in Sparta, with visitation at 11 a.m.. Funeral service begins at noon and ends with military honors. A luncheon at the funeral home will follow the ceremony.

A full obituary is available at Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home and Cremation website. Online condolences may be offered at

Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home and Cremation, Sparta, is assisting the family with arrangements.


Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home and Cremation