Charles Merritt was born in Washington Parish, but moved to Hammond where he completed high school and earned a business administration degree from Southeastern in the early 1930s. In 1937, Commercial Metals hired him as a stenographer. He later worked as a scale buyer and assistant manager. He then served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1942 to 1945. When he returned to the company, he was made the head of its rail and salvage division and he was later promoted to managing all ferrous trading. He became vice president in 1950, member of the board in 1951, president and chief executive officer in 1970, chairman of the board in 1978, and finally retired in 1981 as a consultant to the company.
Upon Mr. Merritt's death in 1991, he left $241,000 to Southeastern, the largest bequest in the university's history at that time. The bequest was used to establish an endowment for scholarships for Southeastern students.