Mary C. Merill passed away in her home on Dec. 17, 2019.
Born in Sandusky, Michigan, Mary was raised by her Aunt Vera and Uncle Joe in Dearborn, Michigan. In 1959, at the age of 19, Mary worked on the SS Aquarama, a World War II troop ship for the U.S. Navy that had been converted into the largest passenger ship of the Great Lakes, providing a day service from Detroit to Cleveland in less than six hours.
The SS Aquarama also provided a home for Mary. Living on board provided free lodging that contributed toward her college fund savings. Mary knew that a college education would give her the opportunity to be independent and maybe travel the world. On board she was referred to and known as the “vegetable girl” who took care of restocking the salad bar. She eventually worked her way up to “slinging drinks” at the main bar and this paid for her tuition at the University of Western Michigan where she graduated in 1962 with a Bachelors of Science in English. Mary joked about how fitting it was to earn “B.S.” after her name.
In the summer of 1962, she was offered a free ride to San Francisco if she would deliver a new Cadillac to the dealership. Mary said yes. The petite Mary could barely see over the hood of the Cadillac. Nonetheless she got her dad, herself, and the car to the Bay Area. Mary decided to stay in San Francisco where she moved into a Victorian house with eight other girls, and got a job at Learner’s Department Store on Market Street.
After experiencing the 60’s movement in San Francisco, Mary moved to Kentucky where she proudly attended two Kentucky Derby’s and earned a Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Louisville with an emphasis in Special Education.
In 1975, Mary’s father shared his plan to move to San Diego. Mary added herself to his plan; she would drive her father to San Diego and obtain her post graduate degree at SDSU. Mary drove her dad’s old Ford from Atlanta and they set up residence in Banker’s Hill.
After receiving her post graduate degree, she was hired at Sherman Elementary where she worked with special education students, meeting more than their academic needs. She always maintained that each child was a whole person. Engaging parents, teachers and the community, she provided a curriculum for children, rich with the appreciation of the beauty of life that surrounds them.
A fellow teacher and Coronadan Martha Klopp encouraged Mary to purchase property in Coronado. Hence, Mary bought property and became a resident of Coronado. In the interim she met and married George Holstein, (his luckiest day and the love of her life), and together they enjoyed traveling to many countries and cities.
Outside of teaching, Mary was very active. Thinking of her health, she joined water aerobics. There, Dorothy, a.k.a. “Deep End Dorothy,” introduced Mary to the rest of the mermaids (also known as the D.E.B’s). Mary was involved in book clubs, volunteered at PAWs of Coronado, helped transport seniors with no means of transportation to meet their needs, doctors appointment, banking, and more.
She was predeceased by her beloved husband George and is survived by her cousin Donald Chisholm. Memorial services have been held.
Mary was very generous and giving in love and spirit, never seeking acknowledgement of any kind. Mary’s smile was brighter and warmer than Thomas Edison’s invention. She was quite a lady. She is greatly missed by those who were lucky to have crossed her path.