Melba Jo Merkey passed away on June 30, 2021, at the age of 93 years, 6 months at home in Boise, Idaho where she had lived the past 5 years with her daughter and son-in-law. Melba was born and grew up on a farm in Rocky, Oklahoma. She attended school in Rocky and graduated from Cordell High School. She married Joseph Arthur Merkey in 1951 and they celebrated 65 years together before his death in 2016. Joe and Melba lived on a dry-land farm in Oklahoma and Joe did caterpillar work for the county, but in 1959 they were selected to homestead a farm in Idaho. They loved farming and lived on the farm until Joe’s death. Melba was a quintessential farm homemaker: as comfortable and capable of fixing meals and sewing as milking cows and driving tractors. There just seemed to be nothing she could not do. We were very blessed to have her for a mother. For many years she made all our clothes including suits, shirts, prom, and wedding gowns. She was a meticulous bookkeeper and did the farm books and taxes until she was 90. She had a creative flair that she brought to any project. She could create a lovely meal out of nothing, and meals were always served at a set table – never out of a cooking pot or from the stove. She had a knack for gardening and especially for growing flowers. Apple pies were a favorite made from summer apples from the tree. The freezer was usually stocked with frozen pies that could be heated and served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream if company dropped by. She and Joe raised registered Simental beef cattle and Jersey milking cows, snowmobiled, played pinochle at community club, and traveled visiting their children and grandchildren in later years. She never missed a birthday or anniversary and always managed to get a card or present to the honoree at just the right day via the post office whether she was sending it to Alaska, Texas, California, or Connecticut.
Melba was a member of Eastern Star for 70 years. She held several offices over time and loved the friends she and Joe made. They were also members of the Methodist Church, and she went forward to proclaim her faith in Jesus and was baptized at a revival when she was 12. Earliest memories include our family attending the little white church in Cloud Chief, Oklahoma, and her teaching Vacation Bible School.
Melba was the sixth of six children born to Henry and Gertie Belle Dietrich and the last surviving family member. She was preceded in death by siblings Lloyd (Alma) Dietrich, Charles (Wilma) Dietrich, Vernice (Oscar) Bush, Edith (William) Becker, Wendell (Nicky) Dietrich; and Joe’s family: Marjorie (Ralph Pendleton) Prentice, Marietta (Griffin) Hamilton, Edna (Curtis) Gattis, Jess (Betty) Merkey, Edwin (Shirley) Merkey – sisters-in-law Betty and Shirley survive her.
Melba is survived by her children Gary (June) Merkey of Houston, Texas, and Judi (Mark)Lehrman of Boise, Idaho and five grandchildren: Lori Merkey Lynn, Rick (Shawna) Merkey, Tami (Ace) McCurry, Ambre (Ryan) Zimmerly, Erin (Jake) Timmerman. Great Grandchildren: Cailee (Rusty) Robinson, Allie, Nic & Stephen Zimmerly, Natalie Lynn Clawson, Katie Stevenson, Kaitlyn (Marcos) Mata, Kevin Merkey, Tatiana Jackson. And five great-great grandchildren with another great granddaughter and great-great grandbaby due in October. Also survived by special relatives Diane Ledford, Bill Merkey, Mark Merkey, Reta McLane and Tyler Craft.
Our lives are not lived in isolation or vacuum but are a patchwork of people and events woven over time. To each person who touched her life, we are grateful.
The family would like to thank Keystone House Call providers: Nurse Amy, Henny, and Chris for their years of excellent care in keeping Melba healthy and thriving at home. We would like to thank Keystone Hospice providers: Nurse Crystal, Chaplain Tim, Cali, Michelle, and Shannon for their compassionate care at the end of her life. Our journey would have been harder without you.
The family would especially like to express their deep gratitude to Dana & Ginger Rassmussen and family who have loved and cared for the farm when our parents were no longer able.
Melba loved flowers. In lieu of flowers sent to the family, please enjoy one for yourself or donate one to a lonely or shut-in person in her honor. Donations may also be made to your favorite charity or the Shriner’s Hospital.
Gathering and viewing will be held July 6, 2021 from 6 to 8 pm at Hansen’s Mortuary with an Eastern Star Memorial at 5 open to anyone who wishes to attend. An open house gathering will be in Boise at 2322 N Cole, July 7, 2021 at 6 pm.