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Mildred Pearl Merritt
A memorial service was held Sunday at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Modesto for Mildred Pearl Johnson Merritt, 89, of Modesto. The former Ceres resident died Nov. 11, 2008.

Lakewood Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Born Aug. 21, 1919, Pearl was born near Keyes to Willard and Anna Louise Johnson. With her sister, Betty Marie, Pearl went through school in Ceres, and belonged to the First Baptist Church of Ceres, beginning in 1933. An outstanding student and pianist, Pearl studied at Wheaton College and completed her BA and MA at the University of California at Berkeley. On June 21, 1941, she married Phillip Gale Merritt of Ceres. They returned to Modesto, where Phil practiced dentistry for many years and the family lived on a walnut ranch near Waterford. Pearl was at the center of her extended family, neighborhood and church, excelling in organization, encyclopedic knowledge, and constant faith. She stayed at the ranch for 10 years after Phil's death, and then moved into Ceres. Into her 80s she continued to volunteer at the First Baptist Church in Ceres, and then became an equally faithful member of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Modesto. Pearl shared her home, her talents, and her resources with many friends and family, and stayed in touch by letter, phone, and prayer as she grew older. In 2007, she moved to Bethel Retirement Community in Modesto, and in 2008 to Brandel Manor in Turlock.

She leaves behind her children, Phyllis Klein of Denver, Bruce Merritt of Sunnyvale, and Alice Sabia of Arlington, Wash; her grandchildren, Ashley Bright, Alison Esselink, Troy Sabia, Sarah Klein, Candice Sabia, and Madeline Merritt; and one great-grandchild, Lyrica Sabia.

Remembrances may be sent to the building fund at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, 6509 Shoemake Avenue, Modesto, CA 95358.

Further information at

-Ceres (Calif.) Courier /Nov. 19, 2008