Meretta “Marita” Mertens, a resident of Rio Rancho, N.M., since 1968, passed this life peacefully on Aug. 22, 2018, at the age of 94.
The daughter of Raymond and Wave Soule, she loved to help others and volunteered countless hours from 1940-1993 to Trinity Lutheran, Calvary Lutheran, St. Paul’s Lutheran and First United Methodist Church, serving with the guild and choir, and teaching Sunday school for many years.
She also volunteered for Rio Rancho schools, Meadowlark Senior Center, Presbyterian Healthcare and served five years as chairwoman of the American Cancer Society Foundation in Michigan. In the 1960s, she hosted many gatherings where volunteers sewed dressing bandages for cancer patients.
Meretta’s maternal ancestors (Rust) settled in Elberta, Mich., in the 1800s. Her grandfather was a logger who later opened a barber shop in Elberta. Leslie Porter Rust built the family homestead in Elberta in 1902, and the house remains in the family to this day. Meretta was very connected to Elberta and visited the family home as often as possible.
She loved birds and flowers and being outdoors. She enjoyed camping with her family, waterskiing, knitting, ceramics and ballroom dancing.
As a young adult, she taught tap dance at the Kennedy School of Dance (Detroit) and danced semi-professionally with her sister, Ruth Wave Soule, as the “Tapperettes” at the Masonic Temple and other venues in Detroit. After graduating from South Lake High School in St. Clair Shores, Mich., she worked for Hudson Motor Car Co. and Chrysler Motor Car Co.
Meretta met Gaston “Mert” Mertens in 1943. They were married in 1946 shortly after he returned from his World War II service in the Navy. Mert and Meretta knew the value of hard work and constructed their first home in St. Clair Shores, Mich.
In addition, Meretta excelled at dressmaking, tailoring and millinery, and made “Sunday best” clothing for her daughters.
Meretta was preceded in death by her husband, Gaston “Mert” Mertens; daughter Marlene; son Bruce; sister Ruth; and brothers Billy, Bobby, Eugene and Gerald. She is survived by her brother Don (Marilyn); children Paula Osborn (Ken) and Jay Mertens (Linda); grandchildren Dawn, Jesse and Tyler; great grandchildren Antonio and Marlene; and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Interred at Vista Verde Memorial Park, Rio Rancho.