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Naomi L. Merryman

August 19, 1920 August 15, 2018
Naomi L. Merryman
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Obituary for Naomi L. Merryman

Naomi Merryman dedicated herself to serving others and adding beauty to their lives.

Naomi was born August 19, 1920, to Reverend Bert Arthur and Ellen Olsen. Naomi was the youngest daughter of eight children and was raised in Badger, Iowa. After graduating from Fort Dodge Senior High School, Naomi studied at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and worked in Chicago as a buyer and model at a fashionable women's clothing store.

At the end of World War II, Naomi married her high school sweetheart, Robert Merryman, who with his father, Walter, managed the Fort Dodge Messenger newspaper for decades. Naomi and Robert were married for 47 years until Robert’s death in 1992. Together, they raised two children, Roberta and Gregory. Naomi was mother and housewife extraordinaire, volunteering as a den mother for the Cub Scouts, decorating for festivities of charitable organizations, and experimenting with gourmet dishes for her family and friends.

In her mid-40’s, Naomi went back to school and became a medical assistant. She worked at the Friendship Haven retirement home in Fort Dodge as medical records supervisor and was soon asked to lead the patient activities department and to serve as coordinator for all volunteers. Naomi worked long hours and donated her full salary to Friendship Haven. Naomi was a pioneer in establishing activities and entertainment for the residents -- something that is commonplace today but was unusual for nursing homes at that time.

Always looking for new challenges, Naomi worked as a licensed real estate broker for several years. Then in her early 60's, Naomi returned to school again and became a nurse and a certified nursing home administrator. Cancer of the knee forced her to attend school on crutches during icy winter months. She bravely endured eleven cancer-related surgeries in the following years.

After graduation, Naomi was administrator of the 100-bed Lake Mills Care Center in Lake Mills, Iowa, for eight years. She spent many hours of her own time cleaning, painting, and even cooking to make sure that the residents had a pleasant place to live. During this time, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad appointed Naomi to the Iowa State Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators.

After retiring from nursing home administration at age 74, Naomi worked part-time as a teacher’s aide at Fort Dodge Senior High School, where her duties included helping special needs students.

Naomi’s artistic creativity took off after retirement when she began experimenting with fabric painting after taking a class in batik. Naomi developed her own graceful and colorful style using special French dyes on silk and produced scarves and ties, some of which she sold and many of which she gave to anyone who needed a day brightener.

In 2007, Naomi left her beloved Fort Dodge home (which she had designed) and moved to a retirement facility in Novi, Michigan, to be near her son and his family. She spent happy years there involved in art classes and other activities. She continued to make and sell her scarves and neckties.

Naomi died August 15, 2018, just shy of her 98th birthday. She is survived by daughter Roberta (Dwight Fellman) of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, son Gregory (Kathy Mammel) of Birmingham, Michigan, and granddaughter Rudi and grandson Ben. She is also survived by sister-in-law Shirley Olsen (Gerald) of San Clemente, California, and many nieces and nephews, including Kurt Wilke (Sandra) of Fort Dodge and their three sons: Chris (Andrea), Jon (Tenille), and Ben (Julia).

A memorial service for Naomi will be held Saturday, September 8, 2018, at 11:00 am at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 1800 West Maple Road, Birmingham, Michigan 48009. Friends may visit at the church beginning at 10:00 am.

Memorials may be sent to Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Birmingham, Michigan, or the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota,


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