Former Mercer Island mayor Merkle receives France’s ‘Chevalier’ award

  • Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:36am
  • Life

Alan Merkle receives the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite on Sept. 15. Photo courtesy of Rich Conrad

Alan Merkle, longtime Mercer Island resident and former mayor, has been named the recipient of the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite by the government of France.

The Order of Merit award was created in 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle. A Presidential award, it recognizes a minimum of 10 years of distinguished service to France in the public or private sectors, as well as the military. Conferring the rank of “Knight,” it is one of the highest awards given to non-French natives.

The award was presented before an audience of over 200 attendees by Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, Consul General of France, in a ceremony on Sept. 15 at the law offices of Stoel Rives, LLP in Seattle.

Merkle has been on the board of the French American Chamber of Commerce since 2008. In 2011, he was elected president of the organization, which fosters good economic, commercial, cultural and financial relationships between France and the United States.

Jack Cowan, Seattle honorary consul of France, lauded Merkle for his energy and leadership with the chamber, as well as helping found the Mercer Island Sister City Association.

Merkle has been a Francophile since at least the late 1990s. In 1999, he was invited to be part of a delegation from Seattle to visit Seattle’s Sister City, Nantes, France. During the same trip, he was asked by the Mercer Island Sister City Exploratory Committee to visit potential sister cities for Mercer Island in France. The result of that trip was the “twinning” of Mercer Island and Thonon les Bains, France. That 17-year relationship has flourished, and Merkle and his wife, Linda, have been bulwarks of the Mercer Island Sister City Association.

“From the beginning, Alan and Linda have been our leaders as Mercer Island forged many lasting relationships with the people of Thonon. Along the way, Alan and Linda built personal and professional friendships with the French people and their government. It is a wonderful thing that that friendship has now been formally recognized and this great honor was bestowed,” said Rich Conrad, former Mercer Island City Manager and current Sister City Association President.

Also addressing the audience was Marie-Christine Desprez, Thonon-les- Bains City Councilor and vice president of the Thonon les Bains Sister City Association. She praised Merkle’s early leadership in creating the Mercer Island-Thonon les Bains relationship and the student exchanges that followed.

“It highlights something you said to Mayor Jean Denais on your first visit to Thonon, namely you could send your children safely to our city and we know very well it is the same for our children when they come to Mercer Island,” she said.

In his remarks at the event, Merkle summarized his years in Franco-American relations.

“I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of people and organizations in nearly every conceivable setting. I have come to respect and value French culture, French values, and most of all French people,” he said. “I am extremely honored to receive this award – a sincere thank you to all of my friends, family and colleagues and to the French government for making this possible. I promise to represent the honor with the dignity it deserves.”

Merkle is partner and former chairman of the law firm of Stoel Rives, LLP. His practice has focused primarily on areas of infrastructures, construction and design and government contracts. Merkle was a member of the Mercer Island City Council from 1997-2005, and served as mayor from 2000-2005.

[flipp]

More in Life

Award-winning play ‘The Good Adoptee’ coming to Mercer Island

The autobiographical drama was penned by acclaimed playwright Suzanne Bachner.

Alan Roach and his dog, Roxie, reunited in their new apartment. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
Al’s new apartment, a community effort

Mercer Islanders give housewares, furniture to formerly homeless man and his dog.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Hendrickson
                                A recent Eagle Scout Court of Honor recognized Elliott Hendrickson of Mercer Island, Alexander Raffetto of Bellevue and Andrew Sugamele of Mercer Island.
Three Eastside scouts honored at Court of Honor ceremony

Elliott Hendrickson, Alexander Raffetto, and Andrew Sugamele were presented with Eagle Scout honors.

Prescription for a 2020 Vision | On Faith

A monthly column dealing in matters of faith.

Dora Gyarmati. Photo by Nityia Photography
Embrace the struggle for a complete picture | Health column

A monthly column about mindfulness and general wellbeing.

Mercer Island Pipe Organ Foundation continues to preserve music

19 years later volunteers are still going strong.

Going public with your love | Column on Faith

A monthly column dealing in matters of faith.

From left: students Riley Retinger, Abby Smith, Mimmi Hubbard and Sadie Rabinowitz. Photo by Calah Webb
‘It’s one of my favorite places to be’: School of Rock Issaquah gears up for January shows

In January, students will be paying homage to the Beatles, Black Sabbath, Chris Cornell and others.

Hanukkah at Mercerdale Park

The public Menorah lighting will take place on Dec. 22.

Eat this not that this holiday season | Health

A monthly health column from a local naturopathic health care provider.

Holiday Lights at Mercerdale Park is a Mercer Island tradition. Courtesy photo
A community tradition carries on

Holiday Lights at Mercerdale Park and Firehouse Munch Dec. 6.

Turkeys Nonni, Noelle, November and Nora at Rooster Haus Rescue in Fall City. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
Turkey rescue

The bird’s not on the Thanksgiving menu at this Fall City sanctuary.