When Merle was young, she was part of 4H and would meet new friends from all over in Utah and Idaho. She met a girl from Cache Valley that became a really good friend. They correspond via letters. One fateful 4H leadership conference was coming up in the Cache Valley area and Merle contacted her friend to see if she could visit. Her friend was engaged and decided to line Merle up with her fiancé’s best friend Brent Chugg. So Merle and Brent first met while bowling on a blind date over 50 years ago…how often do those things work out?
Merle had lots of fun on that date but couldn’t remember Brent’s name and she thought Chugg was the most unusual name she had ever heard. Brent was in love with Merle long before she fell in love with him. He was immediately attracted to her, she was a lot of fun, bubbly and beautiful, everything he wanted. They had much in common. They both grew up on farms, Brent in Providence, Utah in Cache Valley and Merle in Tabiona, Utah (a small town in Duchesne County). They had both grown up milking cows, feeding calves, driving tractors, and riding horses. Fun fact: the only horse Merle ever got bucked off was Brent’s.
While Brent served a mission in South Africa he purchased a beautiful diamond and brought it back with him. One evening, they were attending a church basketball game and having lots of fun. Merle’s friend told her about the rumored diamond. Because Merle was going to be going home soon and thought that she would never see Brent again, she jokingly wrote a proposal. She wrote “I hereby propose to marry you.” Brent said yes, he thought that was a great idea.
Merle was working in Salt Lake City at the time. Brent and Merle continued a long distance relationship. They wrote many letters to each other with the occasional phone call. Their courtship went from February to August with a real proposal in June. When Brent was officially ready to ask her, he picked out the perfect ring. They had dinner at a fancy restaurant in Salt Lake City called Finn’s (a German restaurant). It was a simple and quiet proposal. She said yes and they were married in 1965 in the Logan Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When their wedding day came, Brent was supposed to pick up Merle and drive her to the Temple. He was late so her parents took her to his house. To their surprise, when they pulled up Brent was washing his car in the driveway. Come to find out his friends, who knew he usually left his keys in the ignition, had taken his car the night before and decorated it for their impending wedding celebration. He wanted it clean and so he was cleaning it before leaving for the wedding.
After they got to the Temple he realized that he had again left his keys in his car. But it was too late. When he got out of the Temple his car was gone again. Those friends! Merle and Brent drove his parents’ old car all day. When they got to the reception center, there was their car completely decked out again! It was a really great day with family and friends. With two receptions done (one in Logan and one in Tabiona) they were off on their honeymoon. They drove to Seattle and took a ship to Victoria. They saw the beautiful Butchart Gardens in Victoria and had lots of fun. This was the beginning of their love of traveling together.
They planned everything out: they were going to have 4 children, spaced 2 children in two years, wait for 3 years and have 2 more. Funny, that is not how it worked out. They ended up with 3 children really close then a five year gap and two more children. A really fun group of five boys in all.
Brent worked a couple jobs in his career. His first job was with Del Monte Corporation for 23 years. The second job was with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints overseeing all their welfare farms that produced the food that goes into the Bishop’s Store house, a type of grocery store operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that gives food for free to the poor and needy. He worked there 27 years and loved it. He traveled all around the world taking Merle with him when he could. He got to visit North Korea, and Poland just after they were leaving Russia’s rule. But his favorite farm was in Hawaii on Oahu and Merle loved accompanying him there.
Brent loves how his wife is always a lot of fun and always pleasant. He loves that they get along great and he always feels a thrill when he gets to go home. He loves being greeted by his sweetheart after a long day at work. She is very principled and a great mother. Brent was away a lot and she taught the boys very well in his absence. She did a masterful job and has a beautiful spirit to her. Merle loves Brent’s sense of humor and his ability to stay calm when she gets a bit flustered. He is always very attentive and willing to help.
After 53 years of marriage, here is some advice the Chuggs shared:
Stay dedicated to your spouse. It’s okay to have friends and hang with them, but make sure your spouse is right there with you. Do your activities together. You can have separate activities at different times but not all the time. If you do, your relationship can become lopsided very quickly.
Stay on the same track. Being united as a couple, as a family, and as parents is crucial. Decide what is best together, not what one or the other thinks is best.
Being Mayor was never something Brent Chugg aspired to. He had just retired and was looking forward to the adventures that would bring for him and his beautiful wife. When Mayor Taylor came to him and asked if he would step in while he was in Afghanistan he wanted to say no. This was not part of his plan. He thought about it for a moment and felt that if Brent Taylor could put his life on hold for our country, then he could help where he could in North Ogden. When Brent was killed in his service, Mayor Chugg decided he could finish out the next year until the election comes again.
We are so grateful for Mayor Chugg and Merle for their willingness to serve Brent Taylor and our community at this time. Thank you for all that you do for us and for sharing your love story with us. It’s a beautiful story.