Alice Jean <I>Donner</I> Mervau

Alice Jean Donner Mervau

Keswick, Leelanau County, Michigan, USA
Death 2 Apr 2007 (aged 81)
Suttons Bay, Leelanau County, Michigan, USA
Burial Northport, Leelanau County, Michigan, USA
Memorial ID 78665768 · View Source
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Alice Jean Mervau, 81, passed away Monday, April 2, 2007, after a courageous 14-year battle with ALS. Alice was born June 23, 1925, on the family farm at Keswick in Leelanau County, to Frank and Marie Donner. The youngest of seven children, she began her education by trekking four miles from their farm to Keswick's one-room schoolhouse. With the death of her father in the mid-1930s, Alice and her mother relocated to Traverse City, where she ultimately graduated from Traverse City Central High School in 1944.

Driven by the need to help with her family's finances and an industrious nature, Alice held two jobs the whole time she was in high school — one of which was working for the Manistee and North Eastern Railroad as a secretary. She would laugh when she recalled how she was a secretary when she graduated high school on a Friday afternoon in 1944, and by the following Monday she became a clerk for the Pere Marquette Railroad. Later, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad acquired the Pere Marquette, and Alice was promoted to the position of clerk and train router for all C & O rail transport north of Grand Rapids. For many years, Alice was the only woman working for the C & O north of Detroit, and she relished how she could "hold her own" in such a rough-and-tumble, male-dominated industry.

Alice lived near the train depot in Traverse City, and frequently would stay up at night listening for the returning whistle of the last train scheduled in for the night. If she didn't hear it by a specific time, she would drive off to find the stray train and ascertain why it wasn't on schedule. One of the saddest days of Alice's career was when she locked the door to the Traverse City depot for the final time and ushered out C & O rail service in this region.

On Sept. 24, 1950, Alice married Wayne Mervau of Northport. Together they welcomed their sons Wayne II and Roger into their lives in 1953 and 1959, respectively. Wayne and Alice shared 56 years of marriage at their Traverse City home and working Wayne's family farm in Northport. Alice's family was very important to her. She relished watching her boys play Trojan football and enjoyed supporting the team as a founding member of the Trojan Booster Club. Alice never missed attending for 56 years and, as her health declined, listening to Trojan Football on the radio. Two of her greatest delights were the Trojan football debut seasons of her grandsons Adam and Matt.

Alice's faith was an integral part of who she was and Trinity Lutheran of Traverse City was her church. She was very proud that she and her mother had been part of building the "new" church, as the congregation moved from Seventh Street to its current location in 1949. She was a lifelong member and was involved on numerous church committees until her illness slowed her activities. Clothes, quilting bee material, and yarn for charity drives filled the corners of her home for many years.

Alice's service to the community continued with her membership activities in fraternal, military and union organizations. She was an organizing founder of the UAW Retiree Community Center south of Traverse City and a devoted member of the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary (DAV) and Railroad Pioneers Society.

Alice was an eclectic personality. She could be organizing and assembling some of the most complex transportation routing in her office or at the yard, and in just a few hours be on a tractor tilling up 20 acres of orchard. She would spend a full day making her special recipe salsa and then head off to bingo, the church, or to watch her grandsons' little league practice. The joy with Alice was you just never knew where she'd turn up; she never retired, she just did more!

In 1994, mysterious ailments were finally diagnosed as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease). Alice's long battle with this terrible disease was wrought with coordination and muscle decline, falls and hospitalizations, and through it all her intelligence would always shine through in short comments or through her eyes when verbal communication grew limited. Alice bore this affliction with a quiet dignity, faith and determination that she would see her life through to the end. Alice would not be beaten by this disease — rather she chose when to meet her maker. Last Monday she returned to God. She will be dearly missed by all who knew her.

Alice Mervau is survived by her spouse, Wayne H. Mervau; sons, Wayne H. Mervau II and Roger R. Mervau; daughter-in-law, Pam; future daughter-in-law, Kim Schopieray; grandsons, Adam and Matt Mervau; and numerous friends and relatives. Alice was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Marie Donner; sister, Evelyn Kroupa; brothers, Frank Jr., Paul, Albert, George and Harry Donner; and numerous friends and relatives.

Visitation will be at 1 p.m. Friday, April 13, at Trinity Lutheran Church, located at the corner of 13th Street and Maple, Traverse City. A memorial service will immediately follow at 2 p.m. Interment will be at a later date. Arrangements have been entrusted to Covell Funeral Home of Traverse City. Published in the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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  • Created by: Marilyn
  • Added: 18 Oct 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 78665768
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Alice Jean Donner Mervau (23 Jun 1925–2 Apr 2007), Find a Grave Memorial no. 78665768, citing Leelanau Township Cemetery, Northport, Leelanau County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Marilyn (contributor 47298427) .