OREGON — On Nov. 1, 2019, Sandy passed away peacefully in her sleep after a long and hard-fought battle with cancer.
Born on Sept. 7, 1939, in Ottumwa, Iowa to Roy and Myrtle Collins, Sandy’s love of learning led her from the halls of Ottumwa High School to NE Missouri State Teachers College where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in education.
While there, she met the love of her life, Gary Wayne Merringer, and the two were married on December 13, 1961. Two years later the couple, their infant son, Michael and beloved beagle, headed for Washington State with all their possessions crammed in the back of their ’57 Chevy Bel Air. Settling in Naselle, Wash., Sandy continued her career as a history and English teacher in the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District for the next 32 years. There she and Gary also welcomed another son, Christopher and daughter, Allison into their growing family.
Her passion for education never wavered and in 1993, she fulfilled a life-long goal, earning her Master’s in Education from the University of Portland. Sandy cherished the positive relationships she formed throughout her teaching career and the impact that education had on her students’ lives. A wonderful mother and respected educator, Sandy was actively involved in family life, her school, and the larger Naselle community until her retirement in 2001.
A former lifeguard at the Ottumwa community pool, Sandy loved the sun. It is no surprise then that her summer vacations were spent with family at Sun Lakes in Eastern Washington. She also spent the winters of her well-earned retirement in Yuma, Ariz., where her favorite activity was floating in the pool with friends.
Family was central to Sandy’s life. Guided by what she described as her “Midwest values,” Sandy never backed down from a challenge or gave up on something she believed in. She taught her children the value of hard work, that accomplishments were earned, and failure was not an option. She was proud of her kids and joked that she and Gary “must have done something right.” Her final days were spent surrounded by family, reminiscing about love and a life well-lived. She will be greatly missed.
Sandy was preceded in death by her husband Gary in 1993. She is survived by her three children (and their spouses) Michael (Kris), Chris (Traci) and Allison (Roger); four grandchildren: Jennifer, Thomas, McKenzie and Peyton; four great-grandchildren: Henry, Piper, Hazel and Hattie; her siblings and their spouses, Ray “Vernie” (Pam) and Jerry (Mary); many nieces, nephews and cousins, and her special friend, Steve Tolva, with whom she found companionship after the death of her husband, Gary.
In remembrance of Sandy, donations can be made to the Hall Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Chuck Hendrickson, 67 Hungry Highway, Naselle, WA. 98638 to benefit the students of Naselle-Grays River Valley High School. A private graveside service will be held in Ottumwa, Iowa where she will be buried next to her husband.