Mrs. Merle Virginia Lee passed away peacefully in her sleep on March 5, 2018 at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, CO.
Merle was born Merle Virginia Williams on December 29, 1921 in Malaga, California at her grandparents’ house. She had three siblings, Pearl, Eva and her baby brother John on whom she doted. She spent her childhood in Madera County riding horses and running around the family ranch. On September 18, 1942 she married Jess Jr. Lee in Virginia City, NV. A couple years later she welcomed her eldest child, Jess “Ron” Lee. Throughout her life, Merle lived in various parts of California, including San Francisco where she had fond memories of pushing her baby boy up and down the hills in his buggy. Several years later, her daughter, Marcie Virginia Lee, was born.
Merle held numerous jobs during her varied career, but she particularly loved working in the casinos in Reno and Winnemucca. She also excelled during her time at the IRS Service Center in Fresno, and was told she could come back anytime.
In 1969 she became a grandmother and the time spent visiting with her grandchildren was the highlight of her days. During her later years, she moved outside of California. She and her daughter Marcie boarded a ferry in Seattle and took the inside passage all the way up to Juneau, Alaska where they made a home. She would talk about this trip for the rest of her life.
She moved with her daughter’s family throughout Alaska, Iowa, South Dakota and Wyoming and she often cared for her youngest granddaughters, teaching them to read and eat fish sticks. It was then that she developed her knack for storytelling. She became the social butterfly of the family and often called her children and grandchildren just to chat. She would remind them all to “take it easy,” and would always offer her help in anything she could. She had a dream of bringing all her children and grandchildren back to Madera to live on a ranch with her.
In the end, Merle was ready to see her beloved parents, and was eager to return to the California of her childhood memories. At age 96, she left this world to return home.
She is survived by her son Jess Ronald Lee and his wife Tamara Lee, her daughter Marcie Virginia Mallin and her spouse Brian Mallin, along with her grandchildren, Heather Schmidt, Zachary Lee, Mark Lee, Jessica Nichols, Amanda Mallin and Lisa Mallin, as well as five great-grandchildren.
Graveside services will be Monday, March 19, 2018 at 10:00 am at Arbor Vitae Cemetery in Madera.