Anna Marie Merchant Dalle Ave, 92, passed away at 4 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in her Vincennes home with her daughter and son at her bedside.
She was a loving, caring, and encouraging wife and mother. She was a loving and dedicated daughter to her parents, especially to her mother in her late years. Throughout her life, most of her free time was spent with family members. Sundays were devoted to church, family lunches, visits, and drives. Saturdays were given over to family time and, as her children grew, this involved school activities, Brownies, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, YMCA and Clark and Lincoln sports, 4-H, and DeMolay.
She was a member of the First Baptist Church, early on, and then the First United Methodist Church, just four blocks from her childhood home. She became a Job’s Daughter and truly enjoyed singing recalled songs. She liked gardening and working in her yard and transplanted and nurtured many plants originally taken from her mother’s garden. She was forever on the lookout for plants and flowers that might thrive in her plots. If she found something that flourished in her yard in Bloomington she would try it in her yard in Vincennes, and vice versa. She grew lilacs, irises, and roses in season and often clipped their blooms to liven up her home.
She was born on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 1928, the third child of Roy C. Merchant and Leatha A. (Crow) Merchant. Her older brother, Alfred Leonard, was born Oct. 6, 1923, and older sister, Betty Ruth, was born Oct. 2, 1926. All were born in the Merchant family home in Vincennes. Her parents had their own chickens and kept a garden with walking paths, flowering perennials, and rhubarb. Her paternal grandparents, Alfred and Eureka (Rolloff) Merchant, were married May 22, 1867, in the First Methodist Church of Rochester, New York. They departed New York for Indiana and arrived in Vincennes by 1873.
In her youth, Anna Marie loved roller skating at the rink, bicycle riding, picnics with her girlfriends on Sugarloaf Mound, most of the popular music of her day, high school dances, and bowling with the women’s league at Fort Sackville. She had wonderful memories of attending Camp Riverdale in Mitchell. She always enjoyed singing in the church choir and delighted in attending church events and activities along with friends and family. She was in the band in high school and played the oboe. She graduated from Lincoln High School in Vincennes in 1947. She looked forward to her annual high school reunions. She kept in lifelong touch with former classmates and band members.
In 1947, she followed two cousins, Ella Marie “Deak” and Dorothy Merchant, into long term work as a telephone operator at Indiana Bell Telephone Company on Fourth Street in Vincennes. This was a time of party lines, manual cable switchboards, and live telephone operators who asked “Directory Assistance, how may I direct your call?”
In 1978, when the Vincennes telephone office was closed, she was given a choice to continue working in Bloomington, Evansville, or Indianapolis. She and her husband decided on Bloomington, because her daughter was then a senior at Indiana University, and because friends among her co-workers had chosen this city for relocation.
In 1983, after working five years in Bloomington, she accepted an early retirement offer. By this time her husband, an electrician, had also retired. In these early post-retirement years, she and her husband enjoyed traveling. This included visits to their daughter in Dallas, Texas; and later their son in Kalamazoo, Michigan; and family who were elsewhere around the country as they traveled. They also made frequent day trips to many interesting sites near home. When their daughter decided to return to Indiana from Texas, they helped her to make the move. After their son began his medical practice in Tennessee, they often drove down to visit him in Johnson City, and later in Rogersville.
On Sunday, June 5, 1955, Anna Marie married Matthew Joseph Dalle Ave, son of John and Flora (Carli) Dalle Ave of Ragsdale (Aliceville, before the town was renamed). Following their wedding, they drove through Michigan and into Canada, to Niagara Falls. When they returned to the U.S., they passed near places where her great-grandparents had initially settled after immigrating from England in 1836, and Germany in 1854. They had an unforgettable time in New York City, viewing the sights and taking in museums and shows. Highlights were getting a photo with Gary Moore, a famous television star of the time, on a ferry ride, and Broadway and Radio City Music Hall shows. This honeymoon trip was also her introduction to new family members, her husband’s three aunts and their families. This trip was also the informal launch of what became their annual “2-week automotive educational travel adventure series,” which continued for over 20 years and eventually included their daughter, Margaret, born in 1956, and son, Mark, born in 1958. Vacation standouts from this long series were the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, with side trips to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where so many forebears began their American journey; Yellowstone National Park, with Old Faithful geyser; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Grand Canyon National Park; a Texas sojourn to HemisFair 1968, in San Antonio, with excursions to Austin, Dallas, the Houston Astrodome to see a pro baseball game, the beach at Galveston, and Fort Hood, in Killeen, where husband, Matthew, had been stationed while in the Army; and the renowned French Quarter in Near Orleans. Over time, favorite destinations, requiring multiple visits, emerged. These often included visits to or with extended family members. These were St. Pete Beach and Saint Augustine in Florida; Stone Mountain in Georgia, and Gatlinburg, the Great Smoky Mountains, and Nashville in Tennessee. The Wisconsin Dells, not too far from home, became another favorite spot. Along the way, many wonderful lifetime memories were created.
She and her husband made their home in Vincennes on North 11th Street, near Riley Elementary School, from their marriage in 1955 until 1970, when they moved to their second home in the suburbs on Kimmell Road. Kaiser’s Strawberry Patch was just across the road at the time. Dixie Orchard was also nearby. They lived in the Kimmell Road house until they moved to Bloomington in 1978. After her husband passed away in 2008 she returned to Vincennes and Kimmell Road.
She was preceded by her parents, Roy and Leatha Merchant; brother, Alfred Leonard Merchant; sister, Betty Ruth Merchant Overbay; brother-in-law, Cleon P. Overbay; aunts, Ella Marie Merchant, Maude Crow Reynolds, Faye Crow Allen Gerkin, and Audrey Crow Lockhart Organ; uncles, Henry Merchant, John Allen Merchant, Winfield Scott Merchant, Foster Bradstreet Merchant, Leonard R. Crow and Buthel E. Crow; cousins, John Norman Merchant, Ella Marie Merchant, Dorothy Merchant, Mildred Crow Cleveland, John Crow, Robert Crow, Mary Ann Francis Allen Rogers, Ruth Allen Curts and Lillian Elaine Allen Jones White; and her maternal grandparents, Margaret Elizabeth Miller and Commodore Perry Crow.
Ancestors she is now uniting with include maternal great-grandparents, Nancy Crow Miller Knowles Judge and Daniel Franklin Miller; and paternal great-grandparents, John and Susan Gilham Merchant, originally of England; and her great-aunts, Susan Merchant, Elizabeth Merchant, Susanna Merchant, and Mary Merchant; and paternal grandparents, Alfred and Eureka Rolloff Merchant, who was born in Hamburg, Germany.
Survivors include her daughter, Margaret Dalle Ave and son, Mark J. Dalle Ave, of Rogersville, Tennessee; also niece, Beth Overbay Moody of Brazil; brothers-in-law, Richard Dalle Ave of Ragsdale and George and Susie Dalle Ave of Monroe City; cousins, Larry and Claudia Lockhart of Vincennes and Kathy Organ Denny of Austin, Texas; and their extended families.
Mom lived and practiced this philosophy, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, as long as ever you can.” She would encourage everyone to love their family and care for others. She was always active and completely enjoyed the very full life extended to her. Our challenge is to pick up her torch and continue the charge, to follow the Latin motto Lux et Veritas, bring light and truth into the world. Share the faith and your good fortune.
Her life laurels permitted her, in her later years, to heed a nugget of advice attributed to Sir Winston Churchill. Late in his life, when he was asked to what he attributed his success, he is said to have replied “Conservation of energy. Never stand up when you can sit down. And never sit down when you can lie down.”
Memorial contributions may be made in her memory to First United Methodist Church, 411 N. Fourth St., Vincennes, for land stewardship for eliminating invasive plant species and planting native species at Camp Wildwood or other church interests.
Services were private.
Goodwin-Sievers Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Anna Marie Merchant Dalle Ave.