On September 20, 2022 Jeanette Merriss Van Dorn found loving peace at age 99. She was born at home in Logansport Indiana to her late parents Orlando James and Jessie Kuns Lebo. Her father was a Fire Chief and her mother was a seamstress. Life took her through the Great Depression, WW II, marriage, motherhood, the deaths of two husbands and four children, homemaking, work, and retirement. She met each season on her life with independence, courage, determination, dignity, and resourcefulness. Jeanette was a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and cousin. Her boundless charm, storytelling, positivity, empathy for others, opinions, preaching, teaching, dry humor and animated spirit touched the lives of many.
Jeanette was telephone switchboard operator, a WW II (Women’s Army Corps) veteran, a high school cafeteria lady, a county veteran’s affairs representative, a homemaker, a voting precinct captain and a past president of the Venice Florida Chapter of the Women’s Army Corps. She was proud of her military service and in 2015 the Cincinnati VA recognized her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. After relocating to Kentucky in 2012, she enjoyed attending many Veterans Day celebrations and Women Veteran activities throughout the Tri-State with her son Dave.
Jeanette lived a good life filled with love, kindness, gratitude, compassion and generosity. A devoted and supportive mother, she was a woman of strength and dependability. She believed in service to others and was a lifelong cheerleader and always encouraged and put her sons’ welfare first. Jeanette was the caretaker for her mother and son Timothy during their time of need until their deaths. She tried to be a presence in every grandchild’s life and rarely missed birthdays and graduations until her later years. Jeanette enjoyed traveling all over the world to visit her two career military sons. She loved her nieces and nephews and never missed the annual Merriss Family reunion that was held for 50 years. Her memory stayed ‘sharp’ virtually right up to the end. Jeanette was a lifelong learner who was an avid reader that loved poetry, newspapers, self-help books, scandal magazines, astrology books and health magazines. For many years she was an avid bingo player who never played less than 12 cards. She liked to draw and complete word puzzles and enjoyed her IPAD and Facebook. She was a devoted Reds fan and especially liked Joey Votto and Johnathon India. Jeanette said her secret sauce for long life was two pieces of toasted cinnamon raisin bread coated with honey and peanut butter each day. Always a pet (dog) lover, her favorite was a chihuahua named Prince George (P.G.). Her love and care to P.G. until his untimely death in 2019 provided them both with companionship that was amazing to observe.
Jeanette’s faith in Jesus and God was unwavering. She remained Lutheran even though marrying into a Catholic family. She believed everyone had a guardian angel who was there to assist each person by praying for them, protecting them from physical and spiritual harm, guiding them through difficulties and inspiring them to do good. Jeanette spoke and saw her guardian angel often. Jeanette recited the Angel of God prayer and prayed daily. She drew great strength and hope from weekly Joel Osteen sermons.
She is survived by her three sons, LTC (Retired) Marshall “Dave” Merriss (Mary), Daniel Lee Merriss (Elizabeth), and SFC (Retired) Theodore James Merriss (Jhen); nine grandchildren, Toni (Josh) Miller, Patrick (Meghan) Merriss, Erin Dziak, Joshua (Ashley) Merriss, Chloe (Tim) O’Brien, Spencer Merriss, Eric (Elizabeth) Merriss, Samantha Merriss, and Madison (Dylan) Merriss and step-grandchildren Jayden, Alex, and Lexi; thirteen great grandchildren, Thomas, Michael, Caroline, Madelyn, Sydney, Molly, Zoey, Quinn, Ella, Rory, Lane, Bree and Nathan.
She was preceded in death by her loving two husbands, Thomas Merriss, and Jack Van Dorn; two sons Timothy and Mark; two daughters Theresa and Marla Jean; two brothers James (Lucille) Lebo and Thomas Lebo.
Jeanette was a lifetime member of the Women’s Army Corps Association and American Legion Post 275, Independence, Kentucky.
Visitation will be from 12 pm. until 1pm at Middendorf Funeral Home in Fort Wright. A memorial service will follow with burial and full military honors at Mother of God Cemetery. The family would be honored for any veteran or active-duty service member to wear their uniform during visitation, service, or burial. Flowers to the family or memorial contributions to the Northern Kentucky Veterans Resource Station, UC 131, Louie B. Nunn Drive, Highland Heights, KY 41099 would be appreciated. Online condolences can be made to www.middendorf-funeralhome.com.