DECATUR -- Merle Martin Buerger, age 94, passed away on Sunday, January 20, 2019 at Century Assisted Living, Carbondale, Illinois. Merle’s husband of 69 years, Edward Lindell Buerger, passed away on Nov. 18, 2014. They resided in Decatur, IL for 59 years.

Ed and Merle are survived by three children, son Edward Martin Buerger and wife Janice, of Creal Springs, IL, daughter Linda Merle Descher and husband Dennis, of Decatur, AL, and son Frank Dee Buerger and wife Sheri, of Oklahoma City, OK. Their grandchildren are Cameron Wright (son of Ed & Janice), Eric Descher, Chris Descher, John Buerger, Laurie Duncan, Stephen Buerger and Thomas Buerger. Merle and Ed were blessed with 21 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Funeral services for Merle Martin Buerger will be held at 12 p.m. (noon) Saturday, January 26, 2019 at Johnson Funeral Home, 1110 N. Fourth St., Effingham, IL. Services will be officiated by Pastor Rev. Glenn Baker. Visitation will be held from 11:00 a.m. to noon Saturday prior to service at the funeral home. Interment will follow at Watson Cemetery, Watson, IL.

Memorials may be made to Watson Cemetery, Watson Village Hall, P.O. Box 127, Watson, IL 62473 or Residential Hospice, 8341 Express Drive, Suite C, Marion, IL 62959. Online condolences may be shared at www.johnsonandsonsfh.com.

Merle was born in the Martin Family home in Watson, IL on October 13, 1924. Merle was the sixth of eight children born to William Jonathon “W.J.” Martin and Josephine Potter Martin. Preceding Merle in death were her parents, six sisters: Maggie Norris (Ralph), Agnes Martin, Norma Mabry (Warren), Bonnie Cooper (P.L.), Wilma Lewis (Bud), Rita Campbell (Wilbur) and little brother William Jonathon, “Junior”. Merle was the last of the Martin family namesake.

As true of most families who lived through the hardship and daily sacrifices brought on by the depression, the Martins were a very loving and close-knit family. Providing for a home of eleven was difficult, and the necessity of sharing and devotion to one’s family instilled a bond of love and loyalty to one another that was carried on throughout their lives. All the Martins had a great sense of humor and loved music. They possessed natural musical talent and although self-taught, were excellent musicians. Many evenings were spent singing together accompanied by the piano, organ, saxophone, violin, mandolin and guitar.

Merle learned the value of hard work at an early age. She was an excellent student, self-reliant, full of wit, kind, and considerate. Merle had a remarkable memory and could recall the birthdays of her entire extended family, her friends and those she worked with. She also had a beautiful singing voice and knew hundreds of songs by heart. Merle was steeped in Martin & Potter family history and was proud of her Scottish and Cherokee Indian heritage.

Merle enjoyed telling her children about growing up with her family and friends in Watson. Merle’s most enduring childhood memory was of her grandfather David Martin. Born in 1854, he had been a “Song and Dance Man” on Mississippi River boats. After losing his eyesight, he lived with the Martins and kept the family entertained with songs and dances performed on the river. Upon arriving home from school each day, Merle would hear him call to her, “Oh Merlie Girlie, please come see your Ole grandpa, child.” She would read the newspaper to him and he would teach her about the various trees, plants and flowers in the family orchard and garden. She cherished that old man, whose love and gentle nurturing helped shape the manner in which she reared her children and cared for her grandchildren.

Merle was married to Ed on January 13, 1945 while Ed was home on leave from the U.S. Navy. They were childhood friends, having attended grade school and high school together. Merle wrote Ed faithfully each day while he was in combat in the Pacific and gave birth to their first child while he was aboard ship there. They were reunited on December 18, 1945.

Merle was a very devoted wife, mother and grandmother, who always placed her family before herself. Merle believed a positive attitude and self-reliance was very important and provided daily encouragement to her children. She would wake them each morning with “rise and shine”, followed by her singing popular songs from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s as she prepared breakfast. She read to her children daily during their infancy and early childhood and used her sewing skills to make many of their clothes. She was fun-loving and filled their home with love and laughter. After all her children reached school age, Merle sought employment in the Decatur Public Schools so she could spend summers at home with them. She taught typing to special needs children at Washington School and served as assistant librarian at Stephen Decatur and Lakeview High School for 22 years.

Merle and Ed stressed the importance of education and sent all three children to college. They enjoyed traveling and took their children to many national parks and throughout the U.S. Ed and Merle loved the mountains and drove the AL-CAN highway to Alaska four times.

Merle’s favorite place, however, was among her family and friends in Watson, IL. Every holiday and most weekends were spent with the Martin and Buerger families in Watson and Salt Creek. Merle and Ed stressed the importance of helping one’s family to each of their children and further exemplified this by helping their parents and sisters throughout their lives.

Merle had unwavering faith in God. As a child, she attended Watson Christian Church. While residing in Decatur, she and Ed attended the Lovington Baptist Church and Forsyth Baptist Church. Merle and Ed were baptized together by their dear friend and pastor, Rev. Glenn Baker.

Throughout Merle’s life she carried herself with humility and quiet dignity. She spoke ill of no one and would help anyone in need. She taught her children the difference between right and wrong and to never lie, cheat or steal. Merle had the most tender regard for children and elderly people, especially those who were mistreated and neglected. She was adamant that her children never make fun of anyone or look down on those less fortunate. She always pointed out the silver lining in every gray cloud and believed that laughter was the best medicine. Ed was the head of the Buerger family and Merle was their heart.

She was a very warm and caring grandmother who enjoyed a loving relationship with each of her grandchildren. She was proud of their accomplishments and embraced each grandchild as unique and special. Her greatest joy was being with them.

Ed often told Eddie, Linda and Frank that they were so fortunate to have a mother whose self-sacrifice and unwavering devotion gave them many opportunities that she never had. One of the very last comments Ed made to his son before he died was, “Ed, your mother is a wonderful woman.”

Merle Martin Buerger lived her life as a reverent Christian, a proud American, a devoted daughter and wife, and a most loving mother and grandmother. Merle was deeply loved by her family. She will continue to touch their lives each and every day through her loving advice and beautiful memories. Her children will remain forever grateful that she was their mother.

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