Meet our Clan Chief
The Merrilees Family Association (MFA) was founded by Michael Mirrilees of Illinois, USA in 1995 to
"facilitate communication between Merrilees' worldwide,
to gather, preserve and distribute Merrilees' family history
and to create a Merrilees' genealogical database with information
being freely available to all Merrilees' descendants"
Our Clan Chief, Michael Mirrilees, was born 31 January 1958 in Chicago. He was the middle child of three,
which include an older brother, Robert and a younger Sister, Susan. His parents, Robert & Shirley were also
raised in the city, but moved to the suburbs, and then out to the country when Michael was 10. There, he grew
up raising horses and caring for them on the family farm. He still enjoys riding but will tell you that tennis
& politics are his real passions.
When Mike was 8, he met his Great Uncle, the Reverend James Mirrilees from Aberdeen. When he was older, they
corresponded regularly, and still do. Mike says that he owes his interest in family history to his Uncle Jimmy
who had gone to great lengths to track down his relatives who had emigrated to America.
The young Mirrilees graduated (1983) from the Univ. Of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Arts degree in
Communication Arts. To get through school, he worked in a television studio and tried a number of business schemes,
which included; owning a hot dog stand, stringing tennis racquets and selling related items, and selling firewood.
After college, his first job was as a radio announcer in Geneva, Illinois. All the while he was interviewing for
bigger and better things. By Fall of 1981, he was offered one of 5 positions running incumbent Governor James Thompson's
re-election campaign. He was hired and given the most important area in the state, Illinois' "Collar Counties".
The campaign was a success and Thompson went on to become Illinois' first 3 term governor.
After several years of being involved in political campaigns, Michael met his future bride Bernice, affectionately
known by everyone since her birth as Bunny. Mike realized that politics and the type of family life that he wished
to lead were incompatible so, a new career in Outdoor Advertising was taken up. He did well. In 1986 he met a
retired sign manufacturer, they decided to work together and formed a company in Chicago called Scadron Outdoor
Advertising. Over the next 6 years the company grew and eventually commanded most of the prestigious "Wall Scapes"
in the city, large signs painted on the sides of buildings in the fashionable entertainment districts (some of which
are over 10 stories tall). The company grew to 11 employees and was quite profitable. In 1988 Mike & Bunny Married.
Three years later their first child, Ian, was born and in 1993, their first daughter, Emily. They are all snow
skiers and horseback riders, but Mike is hoping at least one of the children will love tennis.
In 1992, Mike left Scadron Outdoor Advertising. During his 6 years as Vice President and General Manager he received
many industry job offers but the invitation he accepted was to join his father in law and brother in law in their
home building business, R. Russell Builders. His job, not surprisingly, is to manage marketing, advertising and sales.
In January of 1995, Mike visited family in Scotland and had opportunity to travel to Glasgow, Ayr, Dumfriess, the
Isles of Lewis & Great Bernera, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. This whirlwind trip took 10 days. On this journey, he met
Count Robin de La Lanne Mirrlees with whom he found many things in common. Chiefly, a love of Merrilees history,
antiques and politics. It was during his stay that the Count impressed upon him the importance of creating a
Mike and Bunny live in the western suburbs of Chicago, and are active in their church.
MFA Founder & first Clan Chief
Mike Mirrilees with his wife Bunny, and childern Emily & Ian
1st International Gathering at Edinburgh, Scotland 1998