Edwards Funeral Home

201 North 12th Street, Fort Smith, AR


Merry Ann (Wheat) Peoples

November 15, 1955June 27, 2020

Merry Ann Wheat Peoples left for Heaven on Saturday morning, June 27, 2020. She died at home under hospice care with her husband, Rusty, at her side.

On November 15, 1955, Dr. Ed Wheat and wife, Gay, of Springdale welcomed a third daughter, Merry Ann. Merry Ann grew up in Springdale and graduated Springdale High School in 1974. She attended John Brown University.

Merry Ann would tell you the 2 most important decisions of her life were: 1. At age 15, at a Christian summer camp, she accepted Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross on her behalf and became a Christ follower. 2. In August, 1978, she married the love of her life, Jimmy Ray “Rusty” Peoples, Jr., with Rev. G. Michael Cocoris officiating (the camp speaker who had led her to the Lord).

In 1982, son, Jimmy “Ray” Peoples III, was born.

Rusty and Merry Ann began married life in Van Buren then moved to a little rock house on a small farm in Cedarville, later moving to Fort Smith’s South “P” Street and then on to Apple Ridge Circle. Lastly, they moved to their beloved Craftsman cottage on Strozier Lane, Barling. Each home was lovingly decorated with Merry Ann’s just-right, personal touches.

Merry Ann had a special way with animals, welcoming numerous dogs and cats into their home and showering them with attention and affection. If she was sitting down, there was always a kitty or puppy vying for her lap.

Besides her “pet projects,” pastimes included Bible study, playing hymns on the piano for her own pleasure, swimming, flower tending, and daily phone calls with her mother. Rusty and Merry Ann are active members of First Baptist Church of Jenny Lind.

Throughout her life, Merry Ann endured many health challenges, hospitalizations, multiple scans, scopes, surgeries and kidney dialysis. She is the bravest woman we know.

Merry Ann is predeceased by her daddy (in 2001).

Those left behind are missing her, yet rejoicing that she is now in the presence of her Lord and Savior,“… and so shall [she] ever by with the Lord.” They are: husband, Rusty, of Barling; and son, Ray and wife Abbi; and their sons, Graham and Owen of Shawnee, Kansas. Ray pastors New City Church, Kansas City, Kansas; mother, Gay Wheat of Springdale; big sisters, Melinda Mason and husband Sam of Springdale, Joy Shoemaker and husband Rick of Tulsa, Oklahoma; her much-loved father-in-law, Jim Peoples of Fort Smith; sister-in-law, Jane “Janie” Peoples of Van Buren; ten nieces and nephews; and eleven great nieces and nephews.

Arrangements entrusted to Edwards Funeral Home, Fort Smith, where viewing will take place, Wednesday, July 1st 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., with family present 5-7 p.m. Merry Ann’s life will be celebrated Thursday, July 2nd at 1:00 at First Baptist Church of Jenny Lind, 1910 Gate Nine Road at Old Jenny Lind Loop, Greenwood.

For memorial gifts: mail to main office: New City Church, 7230 Quivira, Shawnee, KS 66216.


  • Jimmy Ray "Rusty" Peoples, Husband
  • Jimmy "Ray" & Abbi Peoples, III, Son and daughter-in-law
  • Gay Wheat, Mother
  • Dr. Ed Wheat, Father (deceased)
  • Graham Peoples, Grandson
  • Owen Peoples, Grandson
  • Melinda & Sam Mason, Sister and brother-in-law
  • Joy & Rick Shoemaker, Sister and brother-in-law
  • Jane "Janie" Peoples, Sister-in-law
  • Jim Peoples, Father-in-law
  • Merry Ann is also survived by her ten nieces and nephews and eleven great nieces and nephews.

  • New City Church


  • Viewing

    Wednesday, July 1, 2020

  • Memorial Service Celebrating Merry Ann's Life

    Thursday, July 2, 2020


Merry Ann (Wheat) Peoples

have a memory or condolence to add?

Susan Hutchinson

July 3, 2020

Merry Ann was such a bubbly person with a big heart! We especially enjoyed being in church with her in Ft. Smith and her friendship.

RaeAnn Henson

July 2, 2020

Robert and I were sad to hear about Merry Ann. We are praying for you and your family. We have fond memories of the days with both of you. She is now in the loving arms of Jesus.

Love to you,
Robert and Rae Ann Henson

Shannon and Tracy Gallagher

July 2, 2020

Rusty, You and Merry Ann will always have a special place in our hearts. Sending you much sympathy love, hugs and prayers of comfort.

Dianne Elliott

July 1, 2020

I was sadden to read of Merry Ann passing this morning. Praying for family and friends as they remember her special life. Melinda please give your mom a hug for me. She has been a life long inspiration to me.

Raelene Plummer

June 30, 2020

Keith and I remember you and Merry Ann during the early years of our marriage. We didn’t see you all a lot but kept up with you as your Dad would share with us. And there is the ever present story of being born just a few days a part in the hospital nursery. We are sorry to hear of your separation (which is not easy) but with the Lord all things are possible.

You and your family will be in our prayers

Keith and Raelene Plummer

Cathy Reed

June 30, 2020

I will miss your beautiful smile at church and you always calling me miss Lonnie! You were so kind and sweet and never knew a stranger! God gained another angel and she will be looking over rusty! Love ya

Sarah Morgan

June 30, 2020

I loved being your next door neighbor on P street. It definitely made life more interesting with the birds and your big 3 legged dog, Vern. I loved your wife and mamma, Rusty and Ray. My heart hurts for your loss. Hugs and condolences to you both as well as to the rest of the family.

Barbara Cary Bowman

June 30, 2020

She will always be Joy's little sister- She always had a smile on her face and always had an upbeat attitude about her. She will be missed but she is now up in heaven with her dad who was a blessing in himself when the Cary girls were growing up.

Karen Sloan

June 30, 2020


I have fond, fun, and sometimes funny memories of our two families together, usually at the home of your parents (aka AnnMa and JimPa). You described Merry Ann as the bravest person you know, and I understand why. She did indeed face more than her share of health challenges. No more suffering now. She is at peace. You both remain in my prayers.

Karen Sloan

Terry Cross

June 29, 2020

Merry Ann and Terry Ann..... We Had Some Wonderful Times Together Taking Our Papillons To Visit In The Nursing Homes! I’m Pretty Sure The Picture Used Here Was Taken On The Day She Came To Our House To Pick Up Horatio .... Her First Papillon. Merry Ann Was Loving, Kind, And A True Friend.... She Will Be Missed But I KNOW That I Will See Her Again Someday!
Apollo Sends His Doggie Love ❤️