Jeanette Esther (Van Heiden) Merrill

Jeanette Esther (Van Heiden) Merrill of Allison, Iowa, died October 17, 2023, at the Rehabilitation Center of Allison. She was 92 years old.

Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 24, 2023, at Church of Christ in Bristow. Visitation will be held two hours prior to the service from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the church on Tuesday. Burial will take place in the Allison Cemetery. Woodley Funeral Home of Allison is caring for Jeanette and her family.

The eldest of four children of Benjamin and Anna (Harken) Van Heiden, Jeanette was born in Grundy County on April 27, 1931. She attended various country schools in her early years. Jeanette's mother died of cancer when Jeanette was 16. This required her to leave school in order to stay home and take care of her younger brothers. Education remained important to Jeanette, though, and she was proud when she later earned her GED.

Jeanette married Gordon Dean Merrill on March 3, 1948. Gordon and Jeanette enjoyed doing many things together, including completing home projects, attending church functions, following their children's and grandchildren's activities, and camping. They also enjoyed traveling together to all 48 of the continental United States. Jeanette was always the map reader on those trips; and even just before her death, Jeanette could tell you the highway numbers of most of their travel routes. Jeanette traveled to the last two of the 50 states when she was a widow. Gordon and Jeanette spent many happy hours with Vern and Freda McLaren, Benny and Gladys Hinders, Pete and Senne Kramer, and other special friends. Theirs was a strong marriage that lasted over 50 years before Gordon's death.

Jeanette had many happy memories of being a "lunch lady" in the Allison-Bristow Community Schools, particularly her time at the Bristow site. She also enjoyed the times she spent cooking at the NE Iowa Christian Service Camp. Jeanette was an excellent, self-taught seamstress. Sewing was her favorite hobby. If anyone needed anything sewed, Jeanette was the one to do it and to do it well.

Jeanette had a strong and steady faith. She read and studied her Bible and lived a life which reflected its teachings. Over the years, she wrote numerous, heartfelt notes and letters that always ended with “Love and prayers." She was confident of the Lord's promises.

Other than her faith, the most important thing in Jeanette's life was her family. Oh, how she loved her family! Hearing about them, being near them, and visiting with them in person and on the phone gave her great joy. Board and card games (which brought out her competitive spirit!) played around the table and morning coffee at Sandy and Tom’s were two things she especially enjoyed. Family times were treasured times for Jeanette.

Jeanette is survived by her two daughters and sons-in-law: Sandy and Tom Harms of Allison and Linda and Jay Harms of Oskaloosa. Five grandchildren: Cindy (Art) Sathoff of Pella; Clint (Lacy) Harms of Fort Dodge; Beth (John) Endelman of Allison; Molly (Matt) Walker of Oskaloosa; Maggie (Ben) Johnston of Oskaloosa. Twelve great-grandchildren: Jordan (Rachael) Sathoff; Trey Sathoff; Tucker, Tatum, and Tieryn Harms; Macy and Wrigley Endelman; Keaton, Halley, and Kambri Walker; and Libbie and Luke Johnston. Three great-great grandchildren: Jadon and Emmett Sathoff and Laikyn Sathoff. Special niece: Pat (Merrill) Hanson. Siblings: Gerald Van Heiden, Richard Van Heiden, Benjamin DeVries, Merna Lovell, Laurie Diehm, Kenneth Van Heiden. Several other family members including brothers- and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, and cousins also survive her.

Jeanette was preceded in death by her husband, Gordon; parents, Ben and Anna Van Heiden and stepmother Alice (DeVries) Van Heiden; parents-in-law, Percy and Alice (May) Merrill; siblings LaVern Van Heiden, Jerry DeVries, and David Van Heiden. Sisters-in-law as well as nieces and nephews also preceded Jeanette in death.


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