Florence “Lorrie” Merrill, of Woodstock, Vt., died peacefully Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, at home surrounded by her family after a courageous battle with breast cancer.
She was born Florence Bernice Wilkens to Frederic Hermann and Gertrude Emma (Bansemer) Wilkens on Nov. 24, 1928, in Sandusky. Florence graduated from Sandusky High School in 1946, attended Robinwood Hospital School of Nursing in Toledo, and graduated as a registered nurse in 1949. She joined the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps and served until December as an ensign. She married U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. W. Dean Merrill in Camp Lejeune, N.C. on Sept. 6, 1951.
So was born — a military wife. With a (disputed) 12,000 moves in 18 years, Florence became the epitome of the little known, but very abundant military issue — the serviceman’s wife. Wife and mother to three little dependents, she transferred and resituated her family, famously “making a house into a home in three days,” many times over. In 1967 after 16 years, Florence and family retired to Enfield Center, N.H. Then in 1969, they moved one last time to Woodstock, Vt.
Florence was employed at MacHughs Clothing Store in Woodstock Village before tending to Sheila Barton’s antique store, The Lamp Shop.
Life with Dean meant many road trips to visit family, friends and beef-related activities. Florence spent many an hour as navigator while reading, listening to books on tape and knitting something for a lucky recipient. She wore out knitting needles at the same rate they wore out their Saabs.
A proud 1946 graduate of Sandusky High School, Florence returned many times to her alma mater to reunite with her classmates, many who remained close friends for her entire life.
Florence was deeply involved in the activities of her church, Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hanover, Vt., alongside Dean.
Florence is survived by her husband, Dean of Woodstock; two daughters, Janet Duefield of Grafton, N.H., Laurel Merrill of Merritt Island, Fla.; and son, F. Dean Merrill of Bethel, Vt.; four grandchildren, Lisa Green of Enfield, Jeffrey Gerhart of Wilmington, N.C., Sgt. First Class Morgan Merrill of Fort Riley, Kan., and Kristin Merrill of Cocoa Beach, Fla.; and one great-grandson, Cameron Green of Enfield.
A celebration of her life will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hanover with a lunch reception following. There are no calling hours.
In lieu of flowers, contribution may be made to Our Savior Lutheran Church, 5 Summer St., Hanover, NH 03755, or the charity of one’s choice.
Arrangements are under the direction of Cabot Funeral Home in Woodstock.