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Life Story / Obituary
Vibrant, fun-loving, and outgoing are just a few of the words that highlight the extraordinary woman that June Merker was. She maintained an active lifestyle well into her sunset years, and her zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Blessed to share most of her life with her true love, June was filled with unspeakable joy to witness her family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who made her so very proud. A friend of June’s was a friend for life, and a stranger was never a stranger for long when she was around. Life will never be the same without her here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
It was great to be an American during the decade that we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties. Innovation was leading the way to new technologies, and prosperity was the norm within our great land. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1923 when Frank and Eva (Asheryl) Himm were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named June Christine on March 19th, in Chesaning, Michigan. She was the oldest of six Himm children as she was joined in her family by her siblings, William, Marilyn, Phillip, Jill, and Lee, although Phillip died during infancy. To support their bustling clan, June’s father worked at Rimshed Mason Paint Co. while her mother was a homemaker.
Raised in family homes in both Detroit and Redford, June was a typical young girl of her generation. Her family had moved to Detroit when she was one year old, and they moved to Redford when she was in the ninth grade. June attended local schools and belonged to the National Honor Society. She went on to graduate cum laude from Redford High School in 1941.
As a young woman, June was eager for all that life had in store. Her life was forever changed when she became better acquainted with someone she had known prior to his time in the service in the Navy during the days of WWII. His name was Robert Merker, and their paths crossed again just one day after he was discharged. He just happened to bump into her at church, which gave him the perfect opportunity to ask her out. June accepted, and the rest is history as they say. Their love bloomed, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together they were married two years later in 1947. June was involved in the Detroit News Hikers, and Bob also joined in. This group was an important part of their married life. They often took five mile hikes with the group and then went out for dinner and dancing. June and Bob kept in contact with the group through their annual reunions for years, even after they retired. They were also very social and outgoing within their neighborhood as they hosted numerous parities over the years.
There was no greater gift in June’s life than her family. Together she and Bob welcomed two children, Christopher and Timothy, into their hearts and home. Holidays were always spent with family, especially Christmas, and these gatherings usually included extended family. There was also the “cousins party” at least once in the summer and again at Christmas, which included all of June’s siblings and their families. As a family they looked forward to their two to three weeks spent at Beaver Lake near Hillman, Michigan, where the boys learned to fish, water ski, and catch turtles. When June’s sister Marilyn and family moved to Houghton Lake later on, it allowed for numerous visits as well. As parents, June and Bob were so patient and accepting of their boys’ adventures. In fact, there weren’t too many other parents who would allow hoses to be dragged through the house so the boys could have an ice skating rink! In the 1970’s, June and Bob were part of a house-boating group on Lake St. Clair along with their close friends, the Rummels. They also purchased 200 acres and built a cabin on the Thunder Bay River near Hillman where they spent many weekends while the boys were growing up. They loved heading there during the winter, too, as there was snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and animal tracking through the dense northern forest. In addition to caring for her family, June did work outside of the home at times. During WWII she worked at Chrysler and Ford, and later on she worked for several doctors and at St. Mary’s Hospital in Livonia.
Throughout her life June was a bustle of activity. She was an avid gardener who was involved with the local garden club. June was also an avid reader who liked reading history, especially about European and English royalty. She was part of the library league, was active in the Paw Paw Service League, and enjoyed both embroidery and sewing. June kept physically fit and regularly exercised into her nineties. June and Bob shared a love for traveling, and even after Bob was gone June continued to travel with her sisters and on the annual trek to Montana with Tim. Over the years she traveled to many far away destinations, including, Alaska, the Canadian Northwest Territories, China, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Spain, England, Mexico, Honduras, Romania, Poland, France, Egypt, Malta, Croatia, Costa Rica, and on a Russian river cruise. During their younger years June and Bob were amazing dance partners who loved dancing to big band music.
After retiring, June and Bob sold their home in Livonia to move to Huzzy Lake, in Lawton to be near their son Tim and his family as well as close to her sister’s summer home. Later on, they purchased a ranch in Montana, which was later named Black Butte with Tim and Chris so they could be near Chris and his family on their annual fall hunting pilgrimage to the West. After moving to Lawton, June discovered the game of Bridge and really enjoyed it, playing weekly until December of 2016. June was a news “junkie” who never missed “Morning Joe.” Turner Classic Movies was her onscreen favorite channel, at least when she wasn’t keeping up with the Detroit Red Wings.
All who knew June Merker would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She considered it to be her greatest blessing to be a wife, mother, and grandmother, and her joy for living was such a blessing in their lives. Friendly, outgoing, and so kind, June was a gift in the lives of all who were within her reach. Deeply loved, she will never be forgotten.
June Christine Merker, of Lawton, died on Wednesday, February 1, 2017, at Rose Arbor Hospice. June’s family includes her 2 sons, Christopher (Diann) Merker and Timothy (Lorrie) Merker; 3 grandchildren, Erin, Sara, and Bayron; 3 sisters, Jill (Bruce) Barrow, Lee (Kip) Johnson and Marilyn Kuhn; and many nieces and nephew. June was preceded in death by her husband Robert Merker in 2006. Visit with family and friends on Thursday February 9, 2017, from 5-7 p.m. at the Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40, Paw Paw (269) 657-3870. Graveside services will be held 11 a.m. on Saturday February 11th at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery , Southfield. Please visit June’s personal memory page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice.