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Grace Ministries International
1011 Aldon St. SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49509
Life Story / Obituary
With an abiding, deep love for her Lord, Merle Chrysler was every bit a devoted wife and loving, dedicated mother and grandmother. With faith as her guide, she was a steadfast prayer warrior who never ceased in praying for those she knew and loved. A woman of grace who was devout to her Lord and the family she so treasured, Merle will be long remembered for her beautiful spirit.
With the onset of the Great Depression, by 1930 the unemployment rate had already reached astounding levels. Prohibition was law of the land while gangsters ran the streets of the big cities. Despite these trying times, entertainment and America’s passion for baseball was indeed a welcome deviation from everyday worries for which many found refuge. For Isaac and Jesse (Newton) Newtown, the days could not have been brighter for on February 18, 1930, they welcomed the birth of their little girl, Larilla Merle and her twin brother, Earl into their arms.
Born in Flint, Michigan, Merle was one of six children and grew up alongside her siblings Calvin, Frieda, Ralph, Lois, and Earl “Bud”. Her father worked in a lumber camp for 30 years and later at General Motors as a valve grinder until his eventual death in 1955 at the age of 64. Along with looking after her large household as a homemaker, Merle’s mother for a time worked as a waitress. Merle and her family were very close. Through the years they enjoyed big family dinners for the holidays where numerous memories were shared and treasured. In 1960 her family, along with their many cousins, met for a get-together in Grand Rapids, Minnesota which was a memorable time for all.
During her youth, Merle loved to roller skate and swim. She was also involved with The Salvation Army. She was a member of the Flint Salvation Army Citadel Corps and while at The Salvation Army Youth Camp, she even won an award for playing the drums. She attended Lewis Elementary School in Flint and in high school she sang with her high school chorus Madrigal singers. After graduating from Flint Central High School with the Class of 1948, Merle went on to further her education at the Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also received her Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from Frontier School of the Bible. While attending GRSBM she was a member of the Girl’s Quartet and Choraleers. With her lovely singing voice, Merle loved singing gospel songs as a soprano soloist and went on to become a lead singer in the GRSBM Ladies Quartet.
It was also while in Grand Rapids attending school when Merle met a handsome World War II Veteran by the name of Donald Chrysler. After dating for a year, the two were happily blessed in marriage on September 1, 1951 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids. They spent the first part of their honeymoon at Niagara Falls before visiting Merle’s brother, Calvin in Boston, Massachusetts. During their trip, they saw the sights in Lexington, Concord, and visited the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Don and Merle were blessed to be able to raise three boys, Don II, followed by Bud, and Bill completed their family. Through the years Merle and her family lived in many locations including Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Coopersville, and the state of Florida. Merle lovingly raised her family and also worked as a secretary for Meijer, IBM and the C.L. Frost Company. When her husband became a minister, Merle was right beside him as his devoted helpmate. He served as the pastor of Coopersville Bible Church, Warren Grace Church, Croton Community Church and Happy Days Bible Church in Florida. Merle played an integral role at each church and was always involved in church activities and supporting her husband.
Merle cherished recordings of her singing in the girl’s quartet and the many other gospel radio broadcasts and groups she was in. Singing was an expression of her faith, and she continued to love the music of The Salvation Army band. Through the years she was an avid Detroit Tiger fan, and she knew her way around a kitchen, too. She made many family favorites such as goulash, savory beef and pork roasts complete with potatoes and gravy. When dining out, she especially loved Pop’s Restaurant, and she later found the cuisine at Covenant Village of the Great Lakes to be quite tasteful.
In 1977, Merle was involved in a terrible auto accident which resulted in lifelong health issues for her. Even so, she held fast to her faith and counted her blessings. Over the years her family enjoyed numerous vacations to Yellowstone National Park, a trip to California, Mexico, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Canada and Cape Canaveral in Florida. Upon their retirement, Merle and Don took in exciting trips to Israel, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Switzerland. For their 50th wedding anniversary, they relished a trip to Germany.
When Merle’s health began to diminish, she and Don moved to Covenant Village of the Great Lakes in 2003 where they were very active and made many new friends. Merle attended art classes while living there where she created several beautiful works of art. She also enjoyed singing in the Covenant Village chorus.
Ever faithful, Merle Chrysler was a nurturing and loving woman to all she encountered. With a grace all her own, her affectionate nature and witty demeanor was a welcome addition to anyone’s day. Merle was devoted to those entrusted to her care, and was truly dedicated in praying for her family and friends daily. In the eyes of her family who knew her best, Merle was a perfect and loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister and a dear friend who will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.
Larilla “Merle” Chrysler, aged 85 of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Sunday, October 11, 2015, with her loving family at her side. She was preceded in death by her three brothers, two sisters and son, Don Chrysler II. She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Rev. Donald Chrysler; her children, Arthur “Bud” and Cheri Chrysler, William and Binnie Chrysler; 12 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren; her daughter-in-law, Vicki Chrysler; sister-in-law, Merle Newtown; many nieces, nephews and friends. Her family would like to thank the many caregivers for the love and care given to Merle and her family. The service to celebrate Merle’s life will be held on Thursday, October 15, 2015, 11:00 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home-2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Burial in Rosedale Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet her family at the funeral home on Wednesday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM. Contributions in her memory may be made to Grace Ministries International or Hospice of Michigan. To read more about Merle’s life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, please visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com.