Merle Ritter was a tireless and unblinking advocate for the rights of seniors and people with disabilities.  To honor Merle we ask that you make a donation to the Southeast Alaska Independent Living Program at http://www.sailinc.org/ . Thank you.

Posted by Laurel Haas on August 30, 2018
Merle, I have been thinking about you a lot over the past year, as I have been researching your DNA ancestors. You came from some very fine families. I love you, Laurel
Posted by Janet Lumiansky on September 9, 2010
Thank you Merle for hours together of John Stuart, irreverent humor, political updates, great stories and continually reminding me not to back down when my fear threatened to silence me. I love you dearly and respect you tremendously. Janet
Posted by Freya Metz on September 7, 2010
I'm sad that I didn't get to see her one last time. It has been years and I'm sad that she didn't get to see her great-grand-kids growing up. I'm so grateful that she got us all here though! I'm grateful to have been raised with stories of my bad-assed genes from my mother's side and I'm grateful for the fortitude those genes clearly carry. Lot's of powerful years there! Thanks Granny!
Posted by Laurel Weiland on September 3, 2010
There will be an informal memorial service for Merle on Wednesday, September 8th, from 5 to 7 PM at the Juneau Senior Center, 895 W 12th St in Juneau AK
Posted by Ed Weiland on September 1, 2010
Merle loved and doted on her grandchildren. She was always there to help take care of Al and Jana. She gave us a place to stay when we were just starting out. I'll always be thankful that she was there for us when we needed that.
The wonderful life I've been lucky to have lived wouldn't have been possible without Merle, the mother of my wife and grandmother of my children.
Posted by Doug Fanyak on September 1, 2010
From my first introduction, I knew this lady had achieved a certain mastery of life and an even greater zeal for life. Not afraid to connect to others while so many of us struggle to just talk with our neighbors. She is a a person of passion and a strong advocate for those around her who needed it! Your wonderful!...df@SAIL
Posted by Nan Hawthorne on August 31, 2010
To a woman of intelligence, spunk, and devotion to what she believed was right, my mother, Merle F. Ohlhausen Haas Ritter. I love you.
Posted by Nan Hawthorne on August 31, 2010
To honor Merle we ask that you make a donation to the Southeast Alaska Independent Living Program at http://www.sailinc.org/home.php . Thank you.
Posted by Robert Hamersley on August 31, 2010
Grannie as I knew her, was my mother Denise's mother, and I was her first grandchild. Nearly every time we talked or met, she mentioned how wonderful it had been for her when she travelled to Alberta in 1963 to see me shortly after I was born. She was never anything but good to me, and I love her for that.
Posted by Laurel Weiland on August 31, 2010
To a woman who hung in there and lived a long, interesting life. I love you Merle.
Posted by Noelle Hamersley on August 31, 2010
Granny visited us in Courtenay (the picture I have of her with mom is dated 1997). I remember she had many opinions on a lot of things. I was so impressed by her views on social mores.. they seemed so liberal and open minded, surprising for someone of Granny's age. I remember thinking how cool Granny was! Now, as I contemplate her passing, I think of her daughters.
Posted by Jim Tedford on August 31, 2010
Merle loved her pets. During the time Nan and I lived in Juneau together, she had a little red dog with a pronounced underbite named Chops, and a somewhat psychotic cat called Sam. Later on she took in an old white cat Shasha. They were odd little animals that nobody else wanted, but Merle loved and doted on them. She had a soft spot in her heart for lost causes.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Laurel Haas on August 30, 2018
Merle, I have been thinking about you a lot over the past year, as I have been researching your DNA ancestors. You came from some very fine families. I love you, Laurel
Posted by Janet Lumiansky on September 9, 2010
Thank you Merle for hours together of John Stuart, irreverent humor, political updates, great stories and continually reminding me not to back down when my fear threatened to silence me. I love you dearly and respect you tremendously. Janet
Posted by Freya Metz on September 7, 2010
I'm sad that I didn't get to see her one last time. It has been years and I'm sad that she didn't get to see her great-grand-kids growing up. I'm so grateful that she got us all here though! I'm grateful to have been raised with stories of my bad-assed genes from my mother's side and I'm grateful for the fortitude those genes clearly carry. Lot's of powerful years there! Thanks Granny!
Recent stories

Thoughts of Merle - September 8, 2010 Memorial

Shared by Noelle Hamersley on December 5, 2010

Merle F. Ritter's Memorial Gathering was held on September 8, 2010. Guests were invited to share their thoughts of Merle on large sheets of paper.

What comes to mind when we remember Merle...

"I remember her "counting" steps to everywhere!" Jan Rice

"Working together at the Dept of Labor. Later remembering Kathy" - Betty McDonough.. "Also, the trips we took with older lived Alaskans!"

"Supporting others"

"Her fierce and fighting spirit!"

"I offered Merle some of my jelly-bellies and she went off on a tirade about Ronald Reagan and that she'd never eat one because of him!"

"Merle had such a neat character. She had many great stories of her past. She will be missed so very much!" Sharia Ridges

"Merle- feisty! Colorful! Passionate! an Advocate"

Merle will be remembered and missed!"

"To Merle's family, I feel so sorry for the loss of your dear mom. She was my good friend and neighbor. When I go to visit her we have a good conversation and laughed so much. May the holy spirit comfort you and "God bless" - A friend Rose Laboca.

Merle's Pet Peeves

Inequality, Republicans, Racism, Disabilities, Unsavoury food, Non-voters, Jelly-bellies *& Ronald Reagan, Bigotry & Intolerance. 

Merle's Favorite Things

Helping people "see"; inside and out, Hefer project, Alaska Commission on Aging, Low Vision Group, S.A.I.L.,

"Even though I did not always agree with Merle, I respected her!" Jan Rice

Merle's Favorite Food

Soft tacos, black licorice, spaghetti, crockpot meals, clementines

Favorite Pastimes

Politics, raising hell, baseball, advocacy, counting steps - how far things were, debating, pets, lunch with friends at the Juneau Senior Center, loving Abigaile - her feline friend who visited her @ Wild Flower, trips that S.A.I.L. provided for the Older Blind Alaskans, Merle may not have had vision but she knew what was going on!

Guests

Mary Ann VandeCastle, Cheryl Putnam, Lesley Thompson, Ingrid Judson, Doug Bridges, Rose Laboca, Janice E. Rice, Marsha Partlen, Mary Lou Spartz, Mr. & Mrs. ? Thilodeau, Mauris Grous "The Spaghetti Guy", Carol Dejka, Peter Rhu, Corina Williams, Donna McKinley, Joan O'Keefe, Du Anne Jacobi, Betty McDonough, ?, Linda Taylor, Joan Cahill, Mark Sateri

Merle the Inveterate Demopcrat

Shared by Nan Hawthorne on September 5, 2010

Anyone who met Merle knew she was a Democratic Party stalwart almost before anything else.  From earliest age I remember her involvement with numerous campaigns first in Southern California and later in Alaska.  She had campaign gatherings at our house for which I was given the job of coloring pot pie tins for ashtrays.  I got to go along to the campaign headquarters for Jesse M. Unruh when Merle was in charge of setting it up in an empty storefront and was just disappointed when they wouldn't let me help paint the walls.

For her party Merle was not at all averse to some slightly shady activities.  She was a voter registrar for every election.  She would often tell people who approached her to register to vote if they identified themselves as Republican that the registration for Republicans was on a different day.  One candidate had pictures of me on his lap, little adorable tow haired angel that I was, taken for his campaign literature, for which he was accused of trying to make it look like he was married and had kids, which he didn't.  Other candidates posed at our front door trying to look like they were campaigning ... one of those photos is in the gallery on this site.

Merle's hero was FDR,  about whom she said "That man was God."  She was utterly nuts about Obama too, after one federal election decamped as a Green party member.  Merle was all about being provocative and shocking, so her politics was always in your face.  She quite sincerely detested the right wing, however.  She despised Richard Nixon from when, campaigning against her candidate, Helen Kahadin Douglas, he called her "the Pink Lady" implying she was a socialist.  She used to do her ironing when the ultra right wing preacher Rev. Carl McIntyre was on the radio because she could press the hot iron into the clothes and pretend it was he.

The consistency of her liberal politics wavered at times.  She could never talk about anyone without mentioning the person's race, except for white people.  I remember riding on a city bus with her in Seattle and having her refer to a woman sitting several seats away as "that little colored girl".  It was the early 1990s and the African American woman was at least 60 years old.   She never did forgive Japanese people, including Japanese Americans, for WW II.  Her excuse was , "It was war!"    It was often very hard to make sense of the conflicting impressions Merle gave.

In spite of this I know many, many candidates appreciated her support and her hard and enthusiastic help.  And watching my mother work with such joy and passion on political causes could not fail to inspire me and everyone around her.

Nan, her middle daughter