Mary Bethunia Merritt

Photo of Mary Bethunia Merritt
Mary Bethunia "Beth" Merritt, of Avilla Community passed away on Monday, September 22, 2014 at the age of 103 years, 7 months. Mary was born on January 29, 1911 at Princeton, Arkansas, She was one of 11 children of John Samuel and Sarah Looney Abbott. Mary moved to Little Rock after graduating from Sparkman High School in May, 1929. She married Maxie Theodore Merritt on November 15, 1947. Mary retired from Mildred Cobb's Dress Shop, in the Heights, on July 1, 1992 at the age of 81. She moved from Little Rock to the Avilla Community to be close to her son Tommy. Known for her expertise in clothing alteration, many of her alteration customers from Little Rock drove to Avilla for her to continue to alter their clothing. She continued alterations until the age of 98 when a broken leg slowed her down from gardening, alterations, yard work and cooking for anyone she felt needed some "good old fashioned food". She could never pass up canning fruits and vegetables because "all that stuff from a can is not good for you". Many friends and neighbors enjoyed her turnip greens, chicken and dumplings and homemade rolls. Just under 5 foot tall and always less than 100 lbs, she could out work the best of us. Mary was a member of the Avilla Zion Lutheran Church. She was predeceased by her parents, husband, Brothers Claude, Byron, John and Weldon Abbott and sisters, Frances Chandler, Elsie Kinard and Ruby Parnell Childers, as well as her great-grand daughter, Erin Michelle Merritt. Mary is survived by her son, Tommy Merritt and wife Leslie of the Avilla community, stepdaughter, Maxine Calder and husband Tom of Little Rock, Grandsons Brent Merritt and wife Cathy of Greenbrier, Arnie Shilling and wife Suzan of Avilla and Andy Shilling and wife Sheri of Avilla; eight great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandson. Also, a very special friend, Lillie Snow of Avilla. The family wishes to thank the staff of Southern Trace Rehabilitation Care Center and Arkansas Hospice for the loving care given to Miss. Mary. Visitation will be Wednesday, September 24, 2014 11-12 noon at Dial and Dudley Funeral Home Bryant. Following 1 p.m. graveside service at Forest Hills Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Saline County History and Heritage Society or the Saline County Human Society. Arrangements are by Dial and Dudley Funeral Home of Bryant, Arkansas. To sign Mary's online guestbook go to

Published September 24, 2014