July, 2022 – Faithful Living ~
I have sort of adopted a rose bush on the west side of the Christian Family Centre. I’ve named her Rosie and when I see her, I think of Ruth Merillat. After she passed away, I remember working out in the Heritage Room and affectionately gazed at her picture that hangs just inside the doors on the outside wall. Sitting in a chair and dressed in blue blazer, she is smiling and holding the Word of Life.
I remember working for the Merillats at the West Beecher factory for a couple of summers as I approached college and deposited the weekly checks that bore Ruth’s signature. I remember taking the jobs of workers who left on vacation and remember seeing Orv and his compadres bounding through the plant on several occasions wearing their safety glasses. It was important business. As Orv got older, his hearing was diminished due to the noise of manufacturing, but the fire in his eyes, his soft manner, and his captivating smile remained so vibrant. Later on, what intrigued me the most was his enduring faith and how that was demonstrated throughout his life.
I remember when our high school classmate Connie Gould passed away, several seniors helped to raise money for a scholarship in her memory. I sat with Mrs. Merillat and she consented to a challenge grant after several monetary thresholds were achieved. The scholarship lasted, with their help, for 28 years.
I remember sending an invitation to them to be the Grand Marshals for our Heritage Festival Parade in 1986. Becky and I rode with them in a beautiful white and maroon trimmed carriage with Mr. Treadway leading the procession with his matched team of black horses. It was a grand affair.
I remember when they invited the city commission to a luncheon in our honor at the Centre. Orv prayed before the meal and throughout our time together. They expressed their collective appreciation for the work that we were doing on behalf of the City of Adrian. What a wonderful gesture of kindness.
I remember sitting with Ruth and her son Richard in the condo development that bears the Richlyn name. As I entered her residence, she was in a recliner with a cast on her leg. Richard sat in the adjacent davenport and her initial words to me were, “I see you’re still at it.” She was beginning the transition to live in Naples, FL and I was given the opportunity to help in her move.
This time, I was the one to personally express my gratitude for their family’s generosity and benevolence to the Lenawee County community and beyond. I, and many of you, have been privileged to be eye witnesses to the care and attention they have given to many causes and institutions over time. What a legacy. We remain indebted to them.
The home they built on Birnwick Road in Adrian Township, complete with horse barn and paddocks that their granddaughters enjoyed growing up, is now for sale. The photo of them standing on the front terrace graces the Centre Café.
I have been given the opportunity to represent the estate of the family that occupied the dwelling for many years after Orv and Ruth moved on. To be acquainted with this home and property now in working with the current principal [coupled with remembering the long-standing relationship with this family as well], brings to mind the jewels of looking back and acknowledging the reality of simply living in a community for a long time. The intrinsic value that surrounds these relationships built over a lifetime is indeed very precious and what community is all about.
This is true not only for me and many of you who knew Orv and Ruth, but with all those people who have crossed paths with us, and who will intersect today, and in the tomorrows…along this journey called living. Our lives are richer and greatly blessed because of these sacred encounters that you and I share with one another. Let’s not waste any of them…or take any for granted.
When leaving the Centre, I look at the black and white of Orv leaning up against a credenza as he holds a sheet of paper in his right hand and I say, “Thanks Orv.” Then I look left down the hallway, and see them standing against some greenery, with him looking so dapper in his uniform and she, radiant in her dress—they were so happy together…and I say, “Thanks Ruth.”
Pushing through the doors leading to the parking lot, I’ll look at Rosie, and say, “See ya soon.”