Born in Clovis, New Mexico on June 1, 1935 to Howard and Florence McLaren. At age 6, he moved to Aurora, OR where he attended Aurora Grade School. He graduated from North Marion High School in 1954. In 1955 he married Sandra Eppers and together they had three sons: Gary, Mark and Steve. He served in the United State Navy from 1954 until 1958. Merle and Sandra were later divorced.
He worked at Woodburn Music and Appliance and Woodburn Floors until opening his own floor covering store in 1975, McLaren's Carpets in Canby. He retired to Palm Desert, California, where he lived until returning to Woodburn, OR in 2020.
He is survived by his three sons, 7 grandchildren, and 7 great- grandchi ldren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Howard and Florence McLaren, brother Bill McLaren, and his sister, Frankie Barrett.
He was cremated and a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.