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Christopher Mercer was a member here. He was a true dogman and lover of all animals, warm and generous with his time, full of stories, loved bluegrass, his Treeing Walker hounds and hunting with them, and his wife, Laura. I will miss our many conversations.

Christopher Mercer; service later

Christopher Ernest Mercer, 67, of Hubert, died Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, after a short illness at CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern, with his family by his side.
Friends and family will gather in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina later this year to celebrate his life and spirit.
Mr. Mercer was born in Yonkers, N.Y., on May 28, 1950, the third of the four children of the late Ernest Frederick Mercer and Dorothea Bergamini Mercer. From an early age he was drawn to the company of animals, beginning with the reptiles, dogs and horses he knew at the Circle M Farm in Lexington, Ky., where his family rented a house, and where he learned from the horse trainers and groomers.
In 1961, his parents moved to the Wesley Heights area near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., where he attended Woodward Prep School, class of 1968. Starting in 1969, Mr. Mercer worked as a zookeeper at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., part of the Smithsonian Institution. First assigned to the reptile house, he went on to work with great apes and giant pandas, and as an elephant keeper and then an elephant trainer. He was the first trainer of baby Asian elephant Shanthi, who came to the zoo in 1976 as a gift from the people of Sri Lanka.
In the late 1980s, Mr. Mercer decided to move to Eastern North Carolina where he could enjoy country living, hunting and fishing, and two weeks later on the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, he met Laura Zappia when she served him fresh coffee. They were married in 1989 at the Zappia family home on the island. He took his new bride to visit the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where Shanthi and her foster mothers. Ambika from India, and Nancy, a former circus elephant, were overjoyed to recognize and greet him.
Looking for work out of doors in his new home, Mr. Mercer became a landscaper and an N.C. Department of Agriculture-certified pesticide applicator, and in 1991 he accepted a job at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. He was soon promoted to be the first greenskeeper, maintaining the playing fields for baseball, soccer, rugby and other sports. The base received many regional awards for ballfield quality during his 15-year tenure. Since his early retirement in 2006, Mr. Mercer enjoyed working with his beloved Walker Hounds and sharing the good life with Laura and her horses and other animals at their home in Hubert and in Croatan National Forest, where they had camped, fished and hiked. Mr. Mercer never met a stranger and will be missed by many.
He was a dear husband for 28 years of Laura Zappia of Hubert; beloved brother of retired U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Eric Mercer of Roanoke Va., formerly of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Dr. Campbell Mercer, DVM, of Rosine, Ky., and Leslie Dawood of Homosassa, Fla.; son-in-law of Jean Bosco Zappia; and beloved uncle of Doug, Eric Jr., Ernie, Peter, Lisa, Jenny Lynn, Natalie, Joe, Erica, Leanne and Michael.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in his name may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation online at JDRF.org.
The family welcomes expressions of sympathy posted on the Facebook pages of Chris Mercer or Laura Zappia.
The family handled the arrangements.