Merilyn Ballard

This is more than an obituary; this is a love story that began in 1952 and lasted for 68 years. Merilyn passed away in her sleep early in the morning on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. She and Bill were married on Aug. 14, 1953, a marriage that lasted for 66-plus years.

Merilyn was born July 20, 1932, in Bismarck, North Dakota. Her parents were Bernice and Carl Hansen. Merilyn was the second child born to Bernice and Carl who lived in North Dakota at the time. Merilyn liked to tell the story about her parents’ marriage. They were married in Fargo shortly after graduation from North Dakota State University. Carl got a coaching job in Richmond, North Dakota, and according to Merilyn, her mother soon became pregnant with Kenny, her older brother, but when the time came for the birth, her mother wanted to go back to Fargo. Shortly after Kenny’s birth, her parents moved to Poplar. When Bernice became pregnant with Merilyn, when time came for the birth, her mother did not have confidence in the medical community in Northeast Montana. So, Bernice went to Bismarck for Merilyn’s birth. By the time her younger siblings, Jim and Sharon, were born, her mom had enough confidence in Northeast Montana doctors that she stayed at home for their births.

Merilyn was nicknamed “Dodo” by Kenny, her older brother, and this name stuck with her throughout her life. At first, when Bill went to Poplar for a summer job, he was introduced to “Dodo” by her brother Kenny, who was a catcher on the local baseball team. (Bill was a pitcher on the team). Kenny set up a double date for himself, his date, Bill and Dodo. They went to a movie. After which, Kenny went to a place where he liked to take a date. Since Dodo had allowed Bill to hold her hand during the movie, Bill decided to venture a kiss, and Dodo did not resist, and the rest is history. They were married on Aug. 14, 1953.

Merilyn is survived by her husband Bill; her three children, Sue Larsen (Bob), Dave (Lynda), Jeff (Kristen); her brothers, Kenny (Barb) and Jim (Liz), and her sister Sharon (Gil); her grandkids, Bryce (Carrie), Mark (Abby), Shelby (Charlie), Greg (Shawna), Lindsey (John), Kyren and Kennley; along with five great-grandkids. Special thanks are due to the following: Mary, who has been our driver for the last two years, and to the many caregivers who have provided 24-hour care for Merilyn including: Brittney, Anita, Maggie S, Sabrina, Donna N, Krista, Carmen, Donna O, Michaela, Madison, Ceara, Sunnie, Darcy, Jill, Kelly, Ashley, Barb, Maggie P, Shay, Tonya, Bobbi, Jessica, Rae, and Katie, and to all who cared so much and so well. We would like to thank Brooke Wagner (music therapy). We would also like to thank Dr. Neil Sorensen.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at the First Presbyterian Church, 2420 13th St. West.

In lieu of flowers, gifts to honor Merilyn may be given to the First Presbyterian Church or to a charity of your choice.

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