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Merlene L. Ritchey of Carlton, Minn., was blessed with 88 joyful years of life before her peaceful departure on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in the loving presence of her family.

Merlene was born on Dec. 13, 1925, in Des Moines, Iowa, to Beulah and Donald Clay.

She grew up and graduated from high school in Spooner, Wis.

During World War II at age 16, Merlene began teaching in a one room schoolhouse just west of Spooner, Wis. She continued attending summer classes at Superior State to earn her teaching certificate and eventually finished her baccalaureate degree at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. During her 33 years of teaching, she enriched the lives and nourished the hearts of over 800 children. She was recognized by the State of Minnesota as one of the best when she was nominated for Teacher of the Year in 1982. As strongly as she was committed to her students, she was still primarily and foremost committed to her husband and six children.

She grew a large garden and harvested and canned each fall. She was an accomplished cook and baker, known for her wild blueberry pies made from berries she picked herself. She was creative and artistic, painted beautiful landscapes and portraits, and she made all holidays special for us.

She loved to laugh and would yodel whenever requested (we captured that on video).

Merlene is survived by her husband Leonard; her daughters Darlene (Fred) Wahls, Charlene (Ralph) Thompson, Linda Ritchey (Leo Legare), Pam Goad, and Kim (Bill) Miller; son Kevin (Kattia) Ritchey; grandchildren Ryan (Sarah) Wahls, Travis (Jen) Wahls, Angela (Ryan) Tichenor, Jayme (Kandi) Thompson, Jocelyn (Eduardo) Checco de Souza, Cullen (Erica) Thiessen, Chelsea Thiessen, McKenzie Goad, Madison, Goad, Riley Miller, and Steven Ritchey; great-grandchildren Ivan Wahls, Jordan Thompson, Tiago, Matteus, and Micaella Thompson de Souza, Wyatt and Hayley Thiessen, and Conrad Joshi; sister Estelene Ladd; brother Leonard Clay; as well as many other relatives and friends.

Merlene was preceded in death by her parents; her brother Melvin Clay, and her grandson Jeffrey Thompson.

VISITATION: 9 a.m. July 19, 2014, in Bethesda Lutheran Church in Carlton, Minn., until the 10 a.m. funeral service celebrating Merlenes life. A luncheon will follow the service. Merlene will be buried at Lorain Union Cemetery near Indian Creek, Wisconsin at 4 p.m. See the family online guest book at