Thoughts of Merle - September 8, 2010 Memorial

Shared by Noelle Hamersley on 5th December 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!


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 5th September 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

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