Merna Ilene Wilson (nee Jones)

Jan. 29, 1918 Ė Oct. 7, 2011

Merna Ilene Wilson (nee Jones) died Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, at the Virginia Health and Rehabilitation Center at the age of 93. She was born in north central Kansas, near Athol, on Jan. 29, 1918, the daughter of Andrew and Lizzy (nee Pritchard) Jones.

Merna and her sister, Doris, were orphaned when Merna was 8 years old and Doris was 6. Following their fatherís death in 1926, (their mother passed in 1922), they were cared for by their grandfather, John Jones, and an informal guardian, Martha Jennings.

Merna was a country girl, but it didnít "stick." She headed for the big city as soon as she graduated from high school; first to Denver near her Aunt Ada, then to southern California, where her Aunt Maud lived. She met her first husband, Edwin Doremus, in California, where he worked on the loading dock at the Monolith Portland Cement Company plant near Tehachapi, Calif. (He first observed Merna on a company tennis court across the road from the plant.) While Edwin served in the U.S. Army, Merna worked in the aircraft industry in Los Angeles during World War II and helped build P-51 Mustangs at a North American Aviation plant in Downey. After the war, Merna and Edwin lived in Rosemead, Calif. Their only son, Mark, was born in 1953. Soon thereafter, they moved to Palmdale, Calif. Merna and Edwin later divorced and Edwin passed away Nov. 15, 1998.

Merna married her second husband, Francis J. "Willie" Wilson, in 1961. Over the years, they lived in Elko, Nev., and several places in California, including Fresno, Tiburon, Corte Madera and Petaluma. Following Willieís retirement, they moved to Hemet, Calif. Willie passed away Dec. 11, 2001, and soon thereafter Merna came to Waukesha, where she lived with her son and his wife, Karen Slattery, for several years before entering the Virginia Health and Rehabilitation Center.

She will be sadly missed by her son, Mark Edwin (Karen) Doremus of Waukesha; grandson, Nicholas Doremus of Madison; sister, Doris Sinden of Smith Center, Kan.; niece, Susan (nee Sinden) (James) Buckley of Smith Center; and her first cousins, Opal (nee Stockton) Moss of Loveland, Colo., Mary Lou (nee Stockton) (Frank) Faiella of Glen Haven, Colo., and Etta (nee Jones) (John) Ramseier of Exeter, Calif.

A memorial service for Merna will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Smith Center United Methodist Church, 301 E. Kansas Ave., Smith Center, with the Rev. Laura Fricker officiating. A time of fellowship will follow immediately in the parlor. Interment will be in Mead Cemetery.

For further information, please call Randle-Dable-Brisk Funeral, Cremation and Preplanning Services at 547-4035, or go to www.waukeshafunerals.com to leave an online tribute.