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You Gotta Believe

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Dick Merrill was so sure he was going to win the BMW, he asked a roving photographer to take his picture standing beside the black, shiny Beamer.

“I told him I was going to win it,” says Merrill, of Wilmington.

About a half-hour later, during Delaware Today’s Best of Delaware Party in July, Merrill’s raffle ticket was drawn and he, indeed, became the owner of the new BMW 128i. The car, with a retail value of $35,025, was donated by i.g. Burton MBW in Milford. The raffle proceeds went to local charities.

“I’ve been around for quite a few years, and never had the feeling I did after I bought that ticket at Harry’s Seafood Grill,” Merrill says. “I can’t fathom how strongly I felt that I was going to win. I was flat positive that it was mine.”

But Merrill, who turns 82 in December, didn’t stick around to witness the drawing of his winning ticket. He had noticed that, like himself, a good number of folks had used valet parking that night, and he wanted to beat the crowd that would be leaving Dover Downs Hotel & Casino after the party.

So Merrill headed back to Wilmington in his four-door Buick about 10 minutes before the big drawing. That was a Thursday night. He was notified of his good fortune the following Monday and picked up the car, with the help of his daughter, Debbie, a couple days later.

“Debbie said, ‘We need to go to Harry’s,’” Merrill recalls. “So we had martinis together and celebrated.”

Even after a week had passed, Merrill still couldn’t get over how strong his feeling was that he would win the car. He regrets that he wasn’t able to share the good fortune with his wife, Jane, whom he lost to bone marrow cancer in January.

“We had both been married before and divorced,” he says. “We had a most wonderful life. It was more than perfect. When we would go places we were ‘Dick and Jane.’ People would ask, ‘Do you have old Spot with you?’”

After much contemplation, Merrill finally figured out how he knew he would win the car: “I know now that it was my wife, Jane, in paradise, telling that me I was going to win.”

—Drew Ostroski

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