Dean was the 5th child born to Ardell James "Cy" and Luella "Lel" Balls at their home in Fairview, Wyoming. Waiting to greet him were Dee, Dennis, Martha and Marge followed by Mack two years later.
Merrill attended school in Fairview and Star Valley High School. He received a B.S. Degree in 1964 from Seattle University and went on to receive his PhD in Organic Chemistry in 1968 from the University of Idaho.
To his first marriage were born four girls: Kathy, Bonnie, Donna and Sara. They later divorced. In 1984 he married Joanne Gruber. To this union were added Joanne''s three children: Debbie, Wendy and John.
Merrill and Joanne had a business called Design Scientific which they ran together for 25 years before retiring in Star Valley.
Merrill was a devoted son, father, brother, husband and grandfather. He loved being back in Star Valley talking about the "good ole days" and memories of growing up with his siblings.
Merrill loved to travel. One of the best cruises was with his sister Marge to Alaska.He was also instrumental in planning a trip to England with his two sisters, Marge and Martha and his wife Joanne. He later planned a cruise for all the siblings and spouses to Mexico. He wanted all his siblings to experience the wonders of the world as he had.He loved reading scientific magazines and always learning something new. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and through his company he designed instruments to help other people.