Merkel, Ruth Elizabeth

Member Of The Daughters Of The American Revolution

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Ruth Merkel
Ruth Merkel

Ruth was born on November 23, 1931, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Justus and Grace (Parfitt) Vitrano.  She died January 8, 2019, in Ooltewah, Tennessee, at the age of 87 years, 1 month and 16 days.  

 She and L. Eugene Merkel were married on June 10, 1956 and celebrated their 60th anniversary with all their children and grandchildren present in the summer of 2016. Preceding her in death were her parents, Justus and Grace (Parfitt) Vitrano, her sister, Genevieve Marilla Serns, her brother, Dr. Steven Parfitt Vitrano, and her nephew, Roger Vitrano.

After completing school at Fresno Union Academy in Fresno, California, Ruth graduated from La Sierra College with a two year secretarial degree in May 1954.  She then attended Emmanuel Missionary College (E.M.C.) in Berrien Springs, Michigan, where she met her husband.  Gene was in the U.S. Navy when they were married at the Seventh-day Adventist church in Milton Junction, Wisconsin where her sister lived.  Dr. Floyd O. Rittenhouse performed the ceremony.

After finishing hospital corpsmen school, Gene was sent to work in the Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan.  Since it was peace time (between the Korean and the Vietnam Wars), Ruth could join him in Japan.  After getting settled in their home, Ruth applied for a civil service position at the Naval Hospital, and became secretary to Captain Ira C. Nichols, M.D., Chief of Neuro-Psychiatry.  He was third in command of the entire base, and Ruth got paid more than Gene!

They moved to Berrien Springs where Gene graduated with a B.S. in Business in June, 1959.  While he was studying at E.M.C., Ruth was hired to be the secretary of Dr. Floyd O. Rittenhouse, President of the college – the man who’d married them!  Gene graduated with a B.S. Degree in Business.  When Dr. Rittenhouse left his position as president of the college to become president of Andrews University, Ruth worked for a few months as secretary to Dr. Fabian Meier, Dr. Rittenhouse’s replacement at E.M.C.

Then she decided to become a stay-at-home mom.  They raised their two daughters, Elaine and Marcia, while they lived in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Berrien Springs, Michigan, where Gene completed his Certified Public Accountant License, earned a Master of Business Administration degree, and a Master of Science in Taxation Degree.

When they moved back to Berrien Springs in 1976 where Gene opened an accounting office, Ruth worked as secretary to two more Andrews University presidents – Dr. W. Richard Lesher and Dr. Niels-Erik Andreasen.  This made her secretary to four different presidents of Emmanuel Missionary College/Andrews University.  Ruth graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from Andrews University in June 1990 and her boss, the university president gave her the degree!

Ruth was a member of the Algonquin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Michigan.  She had two Revolutionary War ancestors:  Esek Eddy and Peter Cutler.  When her granddaughter was born, Ruth wanted Erin to know of the family legacy and history.  So began an adventure of writing six books which told of Erin’s heritage as a sixth-generation S.D.A. girl, as well as a 13th generation American girl.  The Review and Herald published the series of books entitled, “Hannah’s Girls.”

Ruth has been a member of the Pioneer Memorial Seventh-day Adventist church since 1976 until her death in 2019 – a total of 43 years.

Survivors include her husband, L. Eugene Merkel; two daughters, Elaine Gracelyn Hotelling and Marcia Louise Irwin; and four grandchildren Erin Castelbuono, Benjamin and Bradley Hotelling, and Rachel Irwin; one great granddaughter, Quinn Hotelling, a great grandson on the way, Theodore Castelbuono, one niece, Joyce Vitrano Dirnberger; three nephews, Edwin Vitrano, Donald Serns, and Richard Serns and their families.

Visitation hours will be from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11, followed by the funeral from 12:30-1 p.m. at the Chattanooga Funeral Home, Valley View Chapel in Chattanooga, Tn. The graveside service will be held from 1:30-2 p.m. at the National Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tn. 

Instead of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to: Historic Adventist Village, P.O. Box 141 Battle Creek, Mi. 49016.

Please share your thoughts and memories online at www.ChattanoogaValleyViewChapel.com

Arrangements by Chattanooga Funeral Home, Valley View Chapel, 7414 Old Lee Highway, Chattanooga, Tn. 37421.


Young, John W., Jr.

Toon, John David

Carney, Judy Ledwell


John W. Young, Jr., 84, formerly of Chattanooga, passed away Monday, June 17, 2019 in Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles, CA. He was a veteran of the United States Navy, where he served six years. ... (click for more)

John David Toon, 67, passed away on June 24, 2019, at Signature Health Care, South Pittsburgh, TN. He was the son of the late James G. Toon and Vasso Blackman Toon. He is survived by his ... (click for more)

Judy Ledwell Carney, 68, of Chattanooga, passed away on June 24, 2019. Judy was a loving wife, mother and Mimi. She was an avid farmer on Farmville. She was preceded in death by her ... (click for more)


Obituaries

Young, John W., Jr.

John W. Young, Jr., 84, formerly of Chattanooga, passed away Monday, June 17, 2019 in Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles, CA. He was a veteran of the United States Navy, where he served six years. He was an X-ray technician. John worked for various doctors and hospitals in Los Angeles County for 40 years. He played the lead guitar and was a member of many bands in Chattanooga in ... (click for more)

Toon, John David

John David Toon, 67, passed away on June 24, 2019, at Signature Health Care, South Pittsburgh, TN. He was the son of the late James G. Toon and Vasso Blackman Toon. He is survived by his brother, James Leslie Toon (Ruth) of Powell’s Crossroads, TN., nieces, Miller Foutch (Nathan) of Knoxville TN. and Becca Brown (Kevin) of Baxter, TN., and grandnieces and nephew, Abby, Harper, ... (click for more)

Area Obituaries

Goddard, Johnnie Ruth (Dalton)

Johnnie Ruth Goddard, age 89, of the Pleasant Grove Community, Dalton, passed away Saturday, June 22, 2019 at Hamilton Medical Center. She was preceded in death by her parents, Theodore and Mezza Mae Walker; son, Jimmy Ray Goddard; sisters, Marie Pearson and Ophelia Gowin; and brothers, Alvin and Kenneth Walker. Mrs. Goddard was a member of Grove Level Baptist Church. She ... (click for more)

Hatfield, Mae Edith (Jasper)

As the angels sang, the Lord called Mae Edith Hatfield home on Friday, June 21, 2019. Edith lived her entire life in the Jasper, Tn. area where she raised her family. She had worked for numerous businesses in this area as a housekeeper and cook. Edith was known for her hard work and dedication to each of her employers. Edith was of the Baptist faith and loved her Lord and ... (click for more)

Breaking News

County Commission Votes 5-4 Against 34-Cent Property Tax Increase For The Schools

The County Commission voted 5-4 on Wednesday morning against a 34-cent property tax increase for the county schools. Opposed were Greg Martin, Randy Fairbanks, Chester Bankston, Tim Boyd and Sabrena Smedley. In favor were Chip Baker, Katherlyn Geter, Warren Mackey and David Sharpe. County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said the action means that none of the budget is approved ... (click for more)

Citizen Outcry Leads Signal Mountain Council To Hold Off On Big Tax Increase

In response to appeals from many property owners, Signal Mountain’s budget for 2019-2020 that had been passed on first reading did not get approval from the council on the second and final reading. That budget, which was first voted on June 10, would have increased property taxes by 21.5 percent. This would mean an increase of $208.69 for a $250,000 house, which is close to the ... (click for more)