Linda Ann Merrill died peacefully at her International Falls’ home, on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021, at the age of 72. She was surrounded by those she loved most; her loving husband, her sons and their families.
Linda married her high school sweetheart, Ward Kimberly Merrill, on August 21, 1970 at St. Paul Park MN.
Linda’s most loved attribute was that she saw everyone; she cared for everyone, even those that are sometimes invisible to others. For 22 years, Linda guided special education students as an elementary paraprofessional for Bemidji Public Schools. Linda also chose to make a difference as the senior group home manager for Home Front Care of Bemidji MN.
Linda believed in her special education students and celebrated them for the truly ‘special’ people they were. She encouraged their dreams and held them close to her heart. She also went the extra mile to enrich their classroom life. Linda used her many talents to transform her classroom into a fairy land castle; it was complete with stone walls, an amazing drawbridge, a moat and even a kind knight in armor. Linda willed her classroom chair to magically morph into her throne; a throne fit for the Queen she had become. With ongoing donations, Linda’s castle continued to grow and quickly became the go-to spot for other classrooms to request their sitting for a book read by ‘Queen Linda’. Linda was loved and readily recognized in town as the ‘Queen’. Once she was even recognized at the Minnesota State Fair; of course, with the magic of the fair, she was introduced to the parents, as the ‘Castle Queen’.
After retirement, and moving to International Falls, Linda immersed herself in her new community. Early on, she volunteered at the International Falls Bass Championship Tournament. She joined and supported several nonprofits, including: KOOTASCA’s ‘Circles of Support’ Ally mentoring program; her church, Zion Lutheran Church as council secretary; Servants of Shelter board of directors; and volunteered literally hundreds of hours at Backus Community Center. Even when Linda was suffering from worsening symptoms of her pancreatic cancer, she continued to deliver Community Café meals during the pandemic, and actively supported the “Feed Just One” Café by personally raising over $1,400 in donations. She raised the money from her relatives and friends; she lovingly referred to these important people in her life as, “my people”.
Linda loved to host relatives and friends, including their Canadian neighbors at the family’s island cabin on Lake Despair ONT. Linda and Ward enjoyed everything the area offered, including house boating and sailing on Rainy Lake, picnics and visits to local and national landmarks. They loved to travel together, with many winter trips to warm up in Cozumel MX. Most recently their destinations were Medora ND, New Orleans LA, Palm Springs and other locations in California.
Linda was preceded in death by her parents, James Fredrick and Mary Darling Tapp, by Ward’s parents, Jim and Deloris Merrill, formerly of International Falls and by brother-in-law’s Reed Timothy Merrill Minneapolis MN, and Marvin Hedges Forest Lake MN.
Linda is survived by Ward, her husband of 50 years; son Brian James (Rachael) Merrill and grandchildren Ethan James and Adison Ann of Hines MN; and son Scott Kendall (Karen) Merrill and grandchildren Kendall Rudy, Lily Rae and Miles Joseph of Arbor Vitae WI. She is also survived by siblings Mary Sandra Herges of Forest Lake MN; James Tapp (Linda Mae) of St Paul MN; John Tapp (Linda Kay) of Greer SC; and Joseph Tapp (Cindy) of Woodbury MN; and by her brother-in-law, Todd Kendall (Selina) Merrill of Canyon Country CA; and sister-in-law Rosemary Merrill. Linda is also loved and survived by her nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.
A private family service will be held at Zion Lutheran Church on Saturday, February 20, with Pastor Mark Peters officiating. The private service will be live-streamed through Zion Lutheran’s Face Book page. A Celebration of Life and burial services are being planned for a later date.
Arrangements are with Green-Larsen Mortuary Inc. You are invited to see additional photos and information at their website.
Please visit Linda’s CaringBridge site.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you might consider gifting those organizations that were close to Linda’s life and heart:
- Zion Lutheran Church: 530 6th Street International Falls, MN 56649
- The Backus Community Center: 900 5th Street International Falls, MN 56649
- Fairview Home Care and Hospice: 2716 Crescent Drive Ste 1 International Falls, MN 56649
Condolences may be mailed to the family at:
917 Riverside Drive International Falls, MN 56649