Merrie Hensley, beloved matriarch, teacher, and friend, died on September 19, 2020 at her home in Baker City at the age of 63 with her family by her side. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.
Merrie Lynne (Graven) Hensley was born in Baker City on December 23, 1956 to Loran and Isla (Williams) Graven. She was the third of four children who, along with her brothers Ralph, Don and sister Lorna, spent her entire childhood in the Eagle Valley.
Always dedicated to learning, Merrie graduated as valedictorian from Pine Eagle High School in 1975, and went on to college at Eastern Oregon University, Oregon State University, and graduated from the Oregon College of Education in Monmouth (now WOU) in 1979 with a degree in Elementary Education.
She married her high school sweetheart, Ed Hensley, Jr. on August 4, 1979 in New Bridge. The couple moved to Elma, Washington where they welcomed their two children- Matt, born in 1984, and Anne, born in 1985. Eventually, they made their way back to Baker in 1991 where they have happily lived since.
As a beloved teacher in Baker County from 1992 to 2017 at both Haines Elementary and South Baker Elementary, Merrie enriched the lives of many hundreds of students. She was known for finding creative ways to engage her students, often by incorporating stories and photographs of her adult children and grandchildren’s adventures. Merrie dedicated herself not only to her students’ education, but to their personal growth and well-being, often making it a point to support them outside of school by attending their Little League games.
She was a devoted fan of the Seattle Seahawks and Mariners, regardless of whether they were winning or losing, and always decorated her classrooms with their memorabilia. She found peace in her flower garden, which she maintained impeccably, and took great joy in showing it off to her friends and family. Many can likely remember Merrie asking hopefully if they would like to take a walk around the garden.
When Merrie was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, she decided to retire so that she could focus on the parts of life she loved above all else: spending time with her family and friends. In the four years that followed, she did just that. With her friends, Merrie made the most of her days by walking (often while competing to reach the most steps in challenges they participated in together), chatting with a hazelnut latte from the Coffee Corral, and laughing as they shared new experiences together.
One of the greatest joys of Merrie’s life was becoming a grandmother to her three grandchildren Nahkai, 9, Eliza, 3, and Calvin, 1. They meant the world to her, and she cherished every moment she spent with them. Even while undergoing treatments and surgeries, she found time not only for countless trips to visit her children in Portland and Boise, but to see the world by traveling with family and friends to Italy, Iceland, Hawaii, and Disneyland.
Regardless of the challenges she faced, Merrie was always determined to make the best of things. It was rare to see her without a smile on her face. She will always be remembered for her selflessness, kindness, and relentless positivity.
In her final days, Merrie was surrounded by close family, including all three of her grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, Loran and Isla, and is survived by a wide community of friends and family who love and miss her beyond words. Her determined and positive spirit lives on in everyone whose lives she touched.
For those who would like to make a memorial donation in honor of Merrie the family suggests the Hilary Bonn Benevolence Fund through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home and Cremation Services, PO Box 543 Halfway, Oregon 97834. Online condolences can be shared at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com
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