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Longtime lawman Merriman dies in Savannah, began career in Athens

Robert "Bob" Merriman died on May 11, 2024, at St Joseph's Hospital in Savannah. He was 69.

He was born October 16, 1954, to the late Alfred and Sara Nell Merriman.

During his 43-year law enforcement career, Merriman solved many high-profile cases and was known for his compassion for crime victims.

Merriman began his law enforcement career in Athens in 1975, then moved to the Chatham County Police Department where he became a detective in 1981. That became his career niche, either as a detective or supervisor, for the remainder of his law enforcement career.

He moved to the Chatham-Savannah police force with the city-county police merger in 2004 and retired as captain there in June 2007.

Merriman came out of retirement to become chief at Thunderbolt in 2013 with a five-year plan.

The fact he lasted that long was a bit of a surprise, Merriman conceded. “They don’t keep chiefs very long,” he said, adding that generally was the norm in his profession.

Survivors include his wife, Kim Rowden of Richmond Hill; son, Joe Bob Merriman (Jennifer) and their children, Robert, Rachel, Abbey, and Wyatt of Fairfax, VA; sister-in-law, Dale Ashley; nephews Robbie Ashley of Thomason, GA, and Chad Ashley (Kate) of Peachtree, GA. Bob is also survived by stepchildren, Whitney, Jon, and Claire.

In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by a brother, Phil Ashley.

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