Helen Colleen Merritt, the daughter of Bertram and Thelma (Monson) Olson, was born on October 13, 1933, in Walnut, Iowa. She attended country school east of Irwin, Iowa, and graduated from Irwin High School in 1951. After attending Iowa State Teacher’s College in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Helen taught in Kirkman, Iowa, for a year. On May 23, 1954, she married Thomas Oliver Merritt at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Irwin. The couple lived in Omaha, Nebraska, where Helen taught school until 1956. From 1956-59, they lived in San Jose, California, where she worked at Sears. Tom and Helen moved back to Iowa in 1959; they moved to Harlan, Iowa, in 1961. In Harlan, Helen taught at the elementary level for 30 years. She retired in 1995. In 2003, she became a resident of the Elm Crest Retirement Community in Harlan.
Helen enjoyed growing things in her country gardens. She and Tom also liked to travel; they had visited 49 states.
Helen C. Merritt died on Thursday, August 23, 2007, at the Elm Crest Retirement Community in Harlan, Iowa, at the age of 73 years, 10 months, and 10 days.
Helen was preceded in death by her father, and three brothers, Clyde Olson, Duane Olson, and Steve Olson. She is survived by her husband, Tom Merritt of Harlan, Iowa; her mother, Thelma Olson of Harlan, Iowa; two sons, Curtis Merritt of Columbus, Nebraska, and Kevin Merritt of San Antonio, Texas; one daughter, Lana Merritt of Harlan, Iowa; three brothers, Dean (Joyce) Olson of Minden, Iowa, Alan Olson of Le Mars, Iowa, and Dave Olson of Lake Park, Iowa; two sisters, Cherrie Wiese of Topeka, Kansas, and Wanda (Ron) Sabby of Wallingford, Iowa; one sister-in-law, Sue Olson of Sioux City, Iowa; three grandchildren, Faith Peterson, Drew Peterson, and Megan Merritt; and other relatives and friends.
Funeral services were held on Monday, August 27, 2007, at the Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home, Harlan, Iowa, with Pastor Ron Rasmussen of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Irwin, Iowa, officiating. Gene Pursell was the soloist. Casket bearers were Chris Thoms, Donnie Jacobsen, John Heller, Drew Peterson, Gale Rihner, and Gene Dollen. Burial was in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Kirkman, Iowa. The Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home in Harlan was in charge of the arrangements.