OBITUARY

Merle W. Conley

July 13, 1928April 14, 2019

A beautiful stream of light appeared at dawn on Sunday, April 14, 2019 as our dear mother and grandmother, Merle Willhoite Conley, passed away surrounded by family at her home in Austin, Texas.

Merle Conley was a faithful and loving Christian servant whose favorite Commandment was “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.

She was born in Houston, Texas on July 13, 1928 to O.A. and Edith Willhoite. She met the love of her life, Carl Conley, while she was an undergraduate student at the University of Texas in Austin and Carl was a student at U.T.’s School of Law. Carl always said, “Merle was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.”

At UT, Merle was a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, Freshman and Sophomore Class Council, Association for Childhood Education, and Home Economics Club. She was chair of the UT Intramurals, and competed in everything from badminton and bowling to softball. While at UT, she owned and operated the Austin Tot Shop located at the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs on 24th Street.

Carl and Merle were married in Austin, and later moved to the family ranch in Raymondville, where they raised four daughters, he practiced law, and served as Willacy County District Attorney and as member of the Texas House of Representatives. They loved horseback riding, hunting and volunteering.

Merle was a big part of Carl’s success in politics. She campaigned tirelessly for him. She also worked on campaigns for Texas Governor Preston Smith, Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr and others. She was chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee.

Merle served as president of the Raymondville Woman’s Club; P.E.O. (whose mission it is to provide educational opportunities for women); The Aquatic Club. She was a member of the Junior Service League and the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs.

She volunteered for the American Heart Association and Cancer Society, was a Brownie and Girl Scout leader, and Sunday school teacher.

The Conleys’ lives came full circle when they returned to Austin more than a decade ago to retire and be near their children and grandchildren. They remained active in many Austin civic groups.

Merle Conley is survived by her sister Laurine McKinney of Franklin, Tennessee; daughters and sons-in-law Camille (Clay) Cipione, Cathy (David) Swofford, Claire (Bill) Selman, Carla (Tom) Clowe; her grandchildren Suzanne Huff, Marie-Claire Huff, Monique (Luke) Wise, Jennifer (David) Pierson, Clinton (Kendal) Huff, Wade Swofford, Will Swofford, Wes (Brittany) Selman, Jill Selman, Colleen (Bill) Lang, Catherine (Brent) Bauer, Lynette (Craig) Brownlee, Charles (Ruth) Cipione; her great grandchildren Madeline and Rebecca Pierson, Walker and Caroline Lang, Kenneth, Haynes, and Adelaide Bauer, Ben, Anne, and Charles Jr. Cipione.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, brother Warren Willhoite and son-in-law Kenneth Haynes.

Please join us in the celebration of Merle’s life on Thursday, April 18th at Weed Corley Fish Funeral Home, 3125 North Lamar Blvd in Austin. Visitation at 1 pm and Memorial Service at 2 pm with Jason Butler officiating. Burial and reception will immediately follow at the Texas State Cemetery, 909 Navasota Street in Austin.

Merle’s favorite non-profit has always been Sunny Glen Children’s Home, a sanctuary for abused and neglected children in the Rio Grande Valley. Should you so desire, contributions can be made in her memory to Sunny Glen at www.sunnyglen.org or to Highland Village Church of Christ in Austin at www.hvchurchofchrist.org.

Pallbearers are her grandsons: Wade Swofford, Will Swofford, David Pierson, Luke Wise, Bill Lang, Brent Bauer and Wes Selman.

Honorary pallbearers are David Swofford, Clay Cipione, Tom Clowe, Bill Selman, Julian Libersat, Jeffrey Libersat, Glenn Harding, Douglas Harding, Darron Fleming, Ernie Zamora, and Ernesto Lefty Cavazos.

  • FAMILY

  • Merle Conley is survived by her sister Laurine McKinney of Franklin, Tennessee; daughters and sons-in-law Camille (Clay) Cipione, Cathy (David) Swofford, Claire (Bill) Selman, Carla (Tom) Clowe; her grandchildren Suzanne Huff, Marie-Claire Huff, Monique (Luke) Wise, Jennifer (David) Pierson, Clinton (Kendal) Huff, Wade Swofford, Will Swofford, Wes (Brittany) Selman, Jill Selman, Colleen (Bill) Lang, Catherine (Brent) Bauer, Lynette (Craig) Brownlee, Charles (Ruth) Cipione; her great grandchildren Madeline and Rebecca Pierson, Walker and Caroline Lang, Kenneth, Haynes, and Adelaide Bauer, Ben, Anne, and Charles Jr. Cipione.

    She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, brother Warren Willhoite and son-in-law Kenneth Haynes.
  • PALLBEARERS

  • Wade Swofford
  • Will Swofford
  • David Pierson
  • Luke Wise
  • Bill Lang
  • Brent Bauer
  • Wes Selman

Services

  • Funeral Service Thursday, April 18, 2019
  • Merle W. Conley Thursday, April 18, 2019
  • Interment Thursday, April 18, 2019
REMEMBERING

Merle W. Conley

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
Randy Harding

April 19, 2019

She was a second mother to me. Always interested in what I was doing, always loving, always ready with a hug and kiss. She loved talking about her kids and grandkids and took a deep interest in everyone around her. She was my Mother’s and Dad’s best friend. Assuming my Mother can get her to stop talking about her grandkids, I know they are playing a game of cards right now. God bless the family and God bless Merle.

Sherilyn Scott Mercer

April 18, 2019

Dear Conley family,

The state of Texas has lost a beautiful, gracious lady. Mrs. Conley always had a beautiful smile on her face. She raised four amazing daughters. All her knew her were blessed by her presence.

Love to all of you,

Sheri Scott Mercer

Bob Dorow

April 17, 2019

Sending my love and warm thoughts to the family of Mrs. Merle Conley. I truly loved her and she impacted my life greatly.
With sincere sympathy.
Love,
Bob Dorow

Ronald Reynolds Sr.

April 17, 2019

Cathy
What a beautiful lady, inside and out. Please know that Mary, Michelle, and I will have you and your family in our prayers, both of sympathy and thanksgiving.

Jill Nicholson

April 17, 2019

Dear Cathy, David, Will and Wade and family - thinking of you all at this time and remembering what a lovely, beautiful and accomplished lady Merle was. She touched everyone who knew her with her grace and positive attitude. I know she was the backbone of your family and an inspiration to so many fortunate enough to know her. May peace surround you, memories sustain you and love comfort you. Jill Nicholson

Debra Dorow-Eckert

April 16, 2019

To the family of Mrs. Merle Conley,
Please accept my sincere condolences on the death of your sweet mom and/or grandmother.
My thoughts and prayers are with each of you.
Wishing you hope in the midst of sorrow, comfort in the midst of pain.
May you be surrounded by lots of love during this difficult time.
I was planning on making it to service but won’t be able to. So sorry.
Please know you are in my heart, thoughts and prayers.
Sending comforting hugs.
Much love,
Debra

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY