Donald Gene Merrill, Jr. (1945 – 2012), 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee
D. Gene Merrill was a bold, ambitious, and extremely successful mortgage banking executive and business owner. He started his career in 1971 at Mercantile Mortgage Company in St. Louis, Missouri, and within a few years was promoted to executive management and appointed to the company’s board of directors. In 1979, he moved to Northern Virginia and joined Dominion Bankshare Mortgage where he quickly became President and CEO. In the mid-80s he left Dominion Bankshare to found Atlantic Coast Mortgage, which he grew into one of the region’s largest mortgage banks and then sold. In 1988, he became the President and CEO of George Mason Mortgage, which at the time was a fledgling company with less than a dozen loan originators. Under Gene’s leadership, George Mason grew exponentially and spawned two affiliated lenders, Intercoastal Mortgage and First Heritage Mortgage. After successfully navigating George Mason through the global financial crisis, Gene left the company in 2011. That same year, he founded a new version of Atlantic Coast Mortgage, where he served as its CEO until his death in 2012. Today, four of the five highest producing mortgage banks in the Washington, DC area are: Atlantic Coast Mortgage, George Mason Mortgage, Intercoastal Mortgage and First Heritage Mortgage. All founded, or effectively founded, by Gene Merrill.
In addition to his obvious business acumen, Gene was well-known for his generosity. He often gave sizeable loans to friends, colleagues, employees and business partners under very favorable terms and, even then, often forgave these loans. He also donated significant sums to various charitable causes. Gene was also very generous with his time and hard-earned wisdom, particularly when it came to mentoring employees. Many of the most successful executives and owners in the mortgage banking industry today owe part of their success to an opportunity given to them by Gene Merrill.
Gene loved life and pursued greatness even outside of the mortgage industry. He was an avid outdoorsman, skilled chef, excellent carpenter, scratch golfer, and proud veteran of the U.S. Navy. Lastly, Gene was a devoted husband to his wife, Mary, and loving and doting father to his two daughters, Lisa and Kelly. They, along with his four grandchildren, Cruz, Ava, Lauren, and Davis, were his greatest source of pride, joy, and consolation.
It is our honor and privilege to formally induct Donald Gene Merrill, Jr. into the MBAMW Hall of Fame. May his memory inspire us to live bold and generous lives and to support the next generation of leaders in the industry that he so loved.