OBITUARY

Merle Hunsaker

September 22, 1930April 27, 2021
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Ruby Merle Hunsaker died peacefully in her Houston home on Tuesday, the 27th of April 2021. She was 90 years of age. Born on the 22nd of September 1930, in Hillsdale, Michigan, she was the daughter of Ruby Mae Tucker and Oliver Ray Tucker.

Merle’s parents owned the “Knox County Citizen,” a weekly newspaper in Fredericktown, Ohio, with their home on two upper floors and an office/plant on the first floor of a building on Main Street. Her father was also a musician and there was always music and dancing in her home. Her father unexpectedly died of a heart attack when she was nine, leaving her mother three months pregnant with five small children to care for and a newspaper to run. In 1944 her family moved to Mesa, Arizona, where the climate was better for her mother’s asthma.

Merle’s days in Mesa were happy ones. In high school she became fast friends with Elaine Armer and the two of them began singing on a local radio station. It was in high school that she met her future husband, Barry Hunsaker, who was an engineering student at The University of Arizona. They were married in 1948 and spent the early years of their marriage living in small towns in Arizona and New Mexico along a natural gas pipeline being constructed while Barry worked as a construction engineer for the El Paso Natural Gas Company. Afterwards they moved to El Paso, where the main office of EPNG was located. Merle was an active mother of three young boys and a volunteer in organizations that were dear to her heart.

Barry continued to move up the corporate ladder and in 1970 the family moved to Houston, the company’s relocated corporate headquarters. Merle made many friends there and Barry was promoted to President of the El Paso LNG Corporation. He and Merle were afforded many opportunities for travel associated with his new position.

Following the death of her beloved husband in 1984 after a heroic battle with leukemia, Merle devoted herself to her church and to her family--especially her grandchildren, whom she adored. She became the family videographer and was never without her camera. She spent countless hours editing her videos, adding music and special effects to enhance the final product. Merle even arranged a premiere of her first movie “The Magic Frog,” starring her then-only grandson as the handsome prince, and her three granddaughters as the three beautiful princesses. Producer/Director “G-Merle”and cast arrived in a white stretch limousine and were treated to a red carpet welcome before the debut of the movie in a private home.

Merle was constantly hosting sleepovers with costume themes, conducting field trips, and staging video productions with her grandchildren. She handwrote and illustrated enduring stories for them to teach important lessons. “Gerald Germ” informed her grandchildren how germs can make you sick and how hand washing could keep you safe. She staged annual productions of the birth of Jesus at Christmas and the story of Easter on Easter Sunday, complete with costumes and props. As the grandchildren got older, she began taking the entire family on vacations, including trips to Walt Disney World, Alaska, Hawaii, and Italy.

Merle was an active member of The Petroleum Club and The Houstonian Club, where she had a five-day-a-week workout schedule until the year she turned 90. Her favorite classes over the years were basketball and spin. She loved to dance. A member of several dance clubs, Merle was not shy about going onstage at the grandchildren’s weddings and other events to dance with members of the band.

Merle had an amazing capacity to love in a frequently unloving world. She lived God’s commandment that we should love all others as we love ourselves. She had a smile and a kind word for everyone, and an unfailing spirit of humility. At restaurants she would wait to leave until someone came to clear the table so she could thank them and hand them a cash tip that was in addition to the waiter’s tip. Empathetic and compassionate, she lifted the spirits of everyone she met. She never met a stranger and was always genuinely interested in you rather than herself. She brought light into every room she entered. She had a heart like that of Jesus and Heaven now shines even brighter with her there. She will be deeply, deeply missed.

She was predeceased by her beloved husband, Barry Hunsaker; her parents, Ruby Mae and Oliver Ray Tucker; her sister Marie Tucker, who died a few days after Marie was born; her sister Lois who died earlier this year; and her brothers, Ray Tucker and John Tucker. She is survived by her three sons and their spouses: Barry Hunsaker, Jr. and Linda; Scott Hunsaker and Pam; James Hunsaker and Wendy; five grandchildren and their spouses: Ryan Hunsaker and Lauren; Aubrey Ballard and Adam; Kelly Leonard and David; Lindsey Hunsaker Simoson; and James Christopher Hunsaker; five great-grandchildren: David Michael Leonard III; Richard Barry Leonard; John Henry Hunsaker; Johanna Scott Ballard; and Patrick Hardin Ballard; sister, Mabel Strivings; brother, Thomas Tucker and his wife Shirley; her precious nieces and nephews; Jerry Dietrich, her love for the last 10 years; and her many friends and dear neighbors, including Miwa Sakashita and John Stroehlein, Nancy and Eber Lotze, and Ann Burdine, all of whom she loved and who loved her.

The family is grateful to her compassionate physician, Dr. Sheena Stubbers, and to her devoted caregivers Joni Milton, Carol Anderson, and Nichole Nellums.

A celebration of Merle’s life, conducted by Reverend Shad Williams, will be held at four o’clock in the afternoon on Tuesday, the 4th of May, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.

Immediately following all are invited to greet the family during a reception in the adjacent grand foyer, concluding at half-past six o’clock.

For those who are unable to attend, a livestreaming of the celebration service will be made accessible by selecting the “Join Livestream” icon located in the service information below. Here, memories and words of comfort and condolence may be shared electronically with her family by selecting the "Add a Memory" icon below. Additionally, those desiring may send notes or remembrances to Merle Hunsaker Remembrances, 3730 Wickersham Lane, Houston, TX, 77027.

At a later date, the family will gather for a private interment at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston.

In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to The Shad Williams Evangelistic Association, Box 524, Adamsville, TN, 38310; to The Story Church, Box 22013, Houston, TX, 77227; to Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, 11612 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX, 77024; or to the charity of one's choice.

Services

  • Funeral Service and Celebration of Life

    Tuesday, May 4, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

Memories

Merle Hunsaker

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Christie Cummins

May 4, 2021

Vivacious, talented, joyous, beautiful, ageless, never met a stranger, clever, funny, played nice with others but may have run with scissors, never met a stranger, had a heart bigger than Texas!
Joie de Vivre! must have been Merle's middle name. She welcomed me, my little boys, my family, into her realm when we moved to Houston in late 1980. Pam Hunsaker and I grew up as next door neighbors in El Paso. She was my first friend and remains a special person in my life. When my family moved to Houston, it was a few days before Halloween and we were invited to the Country Club party. We met Merle there for the first time, fell in love with her ever present spark of light and love, and have always been grateful for it. We think Scott and his whole family are the luckiest folks we know, to have had an angel like Merle in their lives all these years. She will be so missed but left behind a huge legacy of love.

Eugenia GonZalez cobian

May 4, 2021

Eugenia González Cobian

May 4, 2021

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