It is with heavy hearts that we announce the peaceful passing of our beloved mother, grandmother, and great–grandmother, Merle Evelyne (Runacres) Griffin, two months short of her 98th birthday. Although we know she is now in heaven with her Lord and Saviour, the loss we feel is tremendous.
Merle was predeceased by her husband Fred C. Griffin in 1979, her eldest son Clinton in 1986, her eldest daughter Linda Jane in 2020, her father Forrest in 1982, her mother Bessie in 1993, and her brothers Keith and Malcolm in 2011 and 2014 respectively.
Merle is survived by her children, Janice (Deva) Ratnarajah, Karlene (Graham) Martin, Pauline (Neil) Currie, Malcolm (Connie) Griffin, and by grandchildren Anoushka and Sacha Ratnarajah, Austen, Natalie and Chelsea Martin, Duncan (Lauren) Currie and Stephanie (Richard) Hather, Ethan (Carissa) Griffin, Samuel Griffin (fiancée Leona) and Zachary Griffin. She was "GG" to 11 greatgrandchildren: Gracie and Emma Martin, Abigail and Zebedee Arambasich, Josiah, Charlotte and Stetson Robertson, Sophie and Caleb Currie and Audrey and Georgia Hather.
Merle was born in Vancouver on July 23, 1925, but moved to Westbank with her family in 1930 and lived there the rest of her life. She excelled at school, was a hard worker and tried to be the best in everything she did. On May 2, 1947, she married Fred Griffin in a simple ceremony. She was a practical and sensible young lady, so instead of wearing a white wedding dress, she and Fred wore matching pinstripe suits on their special day! As a newlywed, Mom lived on the shores of Okanagan Lake where she raised 4 little girls in a two–room shack with an outdoor toilet. Clothing, including diapers, was washed by hand and hung to dry in the hot summer sun, and during the winter, inside the home. It’s little wonder her children were all potty trained prior to their first birthday! Ten years later, she and Fred sold their lakeshore property and moved into a 3-storey home with six bedrooms and indoor plumbing, where she lived for the next 45 years.
Merle was a remarkable lady who modelled grace and dignity. She lived a full and healthy life, serving others. She was detailed, always kept a daily diary, and had an amazing memory for dates and life events. Merle was a loving and devoted daughter, wife, mother, and a faithful friend. Despite being quiet and unassuming, her home was always open, and she left a lasting impact on everyone she met.
After graduating high school with perfect attendance and the highest possible grades, Merle attended business college. Her love of learning continued throughout her life, but first and foremost, she was a wife, homemaker, and mother to her six children. Merle took night school courses in math so she could help her children with their homework, and she taught quilting classes for several years at Okanagan College. She was also the accountant for her husband’s and brother’s businesses. Merle enjoyed picking fruit in her father’s orchard and later on, grapes at the neighbour’s vineyard.
Merle tended a vegetable garden until she was 90 and every summer froze and canned hundreds of jars of fruit and vegetables, including jams and pickles. The family had a milk cow, so Merle had the job of straining and separating the cream from the milk. She often made butter, and sometimes ice cream. Merle was also known for her famous homemade root beer, which was a real treat for her kids and grandkids.
Merle was a proficient seamstress, sewing beautiful clothing for her four little girls, as well herself. She made quilts for all her children and grandchildren and knitted beautiful shawls and other items for many newborn babies. Merle was an avid collector of stamps, coins, currency, recipes, newspaper articles - you name it! Nothing was ever thrown away or discarded.
Merle taught all her children how to make a house a home. She also taught them to save money and to keep detailed records of their bank accounts, income, and expenditures. She was meticulous and expected things to be done properly. Good manners and respect for elders was a must. She had beautiful penmanship, and learned to play the piano and accordion. Merle ensured her children attended school every day with the goal of achieving perfect attendance! When her kids (and their friends and cousins) walked home from school, there was always delicious home baking waiting for them in her kitchen.
Merle’s church family was an important part of her life. She attended regularly and for many years was the church janitor. Her children loved to go with her to set up the chairs and hymnbooks for Sunday services. Every Sunday after church, she served a roast beef dinner, and usually invited others to eat at her table. In her retirement, Merle, along with the other church ladies, sewed and quilted every week, and packed hundreds of parcels of clothing, quilts, medical, and school supplies and sent them to missionary hospitals in Africa, South America and other countries where women and children were in need.
Throughout her life Merle enjoyed many trips across Canada, the US and overseas. In her retirement, she enjoyed flying and cruising with her dear and lifelong friend Ferne Jean. Every trip was well documented with photos and a detailed description of events. Through her genealogical research, Merle met many new relatives with whom she corresponded and collaborated in order to build out the family tree, which dates back to the early 1600s.
The family expresses a special and sincere thank you to the loving care aides and nurses at the Village at Smith Creek. They poured out their love, kindness, and compassion to care for Merle. These wonderful people became her "family" during a very difficult two years, and she appreciated them so very much.
Please join Merle’s family to celebrate and honour the amazing and wonderful life of a beloved mom, mother–in–law, grandma, “GG” and friend, at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 17, 2023 at the Highway Gospel Hall, 2549 Hebert Road, Westbank BC. A tea will immediately follow the service and a burial will take place at the Westbank Cemetery at 1:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Westbank Museum. Merle valued history and donated many of her personal items and scrapbooks to the museum over the past few years.