Merle Wade Matthews

October 11, 2011

Merle Wade Matthews, age 83, a native of Ochlochnee, Georgia, and resident of Atmore since 1957 passed away peacefully in her sleep at her dearly loved home on Sunday, October 9, 2011.

She was greeted with shouts of joy and loud AMENS throughout all heaven where she joined her parents, John Arthur and Nora Albritton Wade; brother, Wallace Wade; and beloved sisters, Cleo Hagan, Dora Hackney, Sadie Shuman, Dot Carter, Anne Edwards.

Survivors include her devoted children, Dale (Alan) Ash of Atmore, Cindy (Rob) Colville of Spanish Fort, and son, Hooper W. (Diann) Matthews, III of Atmore; daughter in Christ, Lucille Hubert Matthews of Atmore; grandsons, Daniel Matthews Ash; namesakes, Wade Alan Ash and Hooper Wade Matthews, William Robert Colville, Jr., Samuel Clay Colville; and precious granddaughters, Kristen Diann Matthews and Madison Leigh Matthews; loving sisters, Doris Wade Gandy of Atmore and Lysbeth Wade Brown of Jacksonville; with dozens of nieces and nephews and wonderful special care givers Michelle Robbins of Bay Minette and Joyce Portis of Mobile.

Merle was extremely proud of her family, especially her seven grandchildren and was their constant cheerleader – physically and emotionally encouraging them to always give their best and seldom missing any school, church, or scouting activity or sporting event in their lives. Like a clan, Merle and her sisters traveled together all over the country and abroad and the only thing she loved more than her loving family and throngs of friends was her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom she accepted on June 8, 1941, at the Church of Christ in Arbor Dale, Georgia.

Smart, witty, and possessing a Lucille Ball like personality, Merle graduated valedictorian of Ochlochnee High School and was the first in her family to graduate college. Leaving the cotton fields back home where she worked alongside her father, brother and sisters, she worked in the men’s dining hall in exchange for her tuition. An honor graduate with multiple accolades, Berry College in Rome, Georgia, was very near and dear to her heart. Earlier this year, she established the Markle Scholarship in honor of another Berry alumnus, her neurologist, Dr. Scott Markle. Ever the educator, the scholarship is awarded to a Berry pre-medical graduating senior who is deemed to emulate Dr. Markle’s proactive, kind and compassionate bed-side manner.

Following graduation, Merle was the youngest hired by the State of Georgia to serve as a home demonstration agent where she traveled throughout the rural countryside for nine years sharing her economics degree with others in her hands-on manner. Her marriage in 1957 to Hooper W. Matthews, Jr. brought her to Atmore where she enthusiastically and with great passion taught fourth, fifth, and sixth graders over a span of three decades and tried to instill upon her students honor, integrity, and a strong work ethic. Matriarch and goodwill ambassador of Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Atmore, Merle supplied the “seed money” in the late 1960s for her family’s purchase of the business. Giving away thousands of Pepsi products over the years, she charmed everyone with her infectious smile and true love of life and people. Over the years, Merle volunteered vast amounts of time helping senior citizens and others in need by computing their income taxes. Active in the Kairos prison ministry since the early 1980’s, Merle continued bringing her love of the Lord to others and continued to house weekend Kairos volunteers even this month. As a member of her beloved Trinity Episcopal Church since 1957, Merle was dubbed “Merley Pearly” by her parishioners befitting her love of the Lord ever-positive and “never meeting a stranger” personality. Overcoming and battling some seemingly insurmountable health issues, Merley Pearly always found a silver lining in every situation and would quickly volunteer that “God is so Good! We can never outgive Him! My Lord and Savior has so richly blessed me!”.

Merle’s zest for life and a Celebration of her Christian witness and testimony will be held on Friday, October 14th at 11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, 310 South Main Street, Atmore, with visitation and a reception luncheon to follow immediately following the service which will be conducted by Reverend John Phillips and Reverend Jim Thorpe. Burial will be at 2 p.m. at Oak Hill Cemetery.


2 Responses to “Merle Wade Matthews”

  1. Laura and Eddie on October 20th, 2011 11:46 am

    Merle was a wonderful person. I did not see her much in the last few years but she was such a fun person. She and I worked together so much when our sons, Hooper and Chad were going thru Scouts, then receiving the ultimate, that of Eagle when we had their ceremony at her church. Her sister Cleo and her husband were real good friends of Eddie and I and Merle knew that so she called one evening and wanted me to come up to her house and be with the “sisters” get together. We had a wonderful time and later Merle told me Cleo had driven up from the southern part of Florida ALONE to visit and I think she was about 90 years old then-not sure the last time she came, but Merle and I had a good laugh about that. She had three wonderful children that I know will carry on the values she instilled in them and Hooper shared some of those with us at her funeral. I was so proud of him and her grandson and I know she was looking down smiling to all that was said. May God comfort the family and know she is enjoying being with her sisters and loved ones and knowing she left them a legacy they will have with them the rest of their lives.

  2. deneen madaris on October 13th, 2011 8:58 am

    i loved miss. merle so much she was a true friend–she always gave a warm welcome to everyone–she was such an inspiration to us all!! i am glad to know she is an agel to watch over us!! she may not be here in a body but she is with us always– love to the family!!deneen madaris

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