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Mary Catherine (Bard) Merchant
March 17, 1930 ~ August 18, 2023 (age 93) 93 Years Old
Mary Catherine Merchant died peacefully August 18, 2023, in Dallas, Texas where she lived in a nursing facility close to her daughter for the last two years. Mary was born to Ora W. and Helen Schrider Bard on March 17, 1930, in Oak Park, Illinois.
The Bards moved to LaGrange, Illinois where Mary enjoyed numerous hours in her backyard playhouse, riding bikes and horses, as well as playing the clarinet in her school band. She lived in New Orleans, where her father was based with the Airforce, for a few years after her 7th grade year. She was placed into 9th grade (they didn’t have 8th grade according to Mary) which is a story she liked to tell her children when trying to help with their math.
Mary graduated in 1951 from Indiana University with a B.A. degree in Dietetics. She was a proud member of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority. She was honored by Alpha Chi with her 75-year pin in March of 2023. She remained an active alumna for Alpha Chi as well as a dedicated Indiana Hoosier fan. Mary met Ward Merchant during her freshman year while attending IU and they were happily married in December of 1951. They remained married for 66 years until Ward passed in October of 2018.
Mary moved to Fukuoka Japan in 1952 to be with Ward who was stationed with the Air Force at Brady Field. “Ironically” her father was also based at Brady Field, so she was reunited with him, as well as her mother and younger sister Barbara. Mary and Ward lived in an off-base home and explored many parts of Japan. They returned to Ward’s hometown of Elkhart, Indiana in 1953. They remained in Elkhart until 2016 when they returned to Bloomington, Indiana to reside in the Meadowood community. Mary and Ward also spent their retirement years wintering in Long Boat Key, Florida.
Mary enjoyed staying home to raise her 4 children. While she never had an official job as a dietician, she loved to practice what she learned by cooking delicious healthy meals for her family. Mary was an active PEO and Tri Kappa member serving in numerous board positions. She also enjoyed her bridge club, hosting parties, delivering her home baked Christmas cookies to friends, and time by the lake or river. Mary inherited a doll collection from her grandfather which began her hobby of adding to the collection and public speaking about her dolls (many from foreign lands dating back to the 1800’s). But Mary’s true passion was traveling. She and Ward traveled worldwide, having visited all 50 states, over 50 countries, and all seven continents. She was such a keen and accomplished traveler that a local travel agency recruited her to be a travel agent. Mary’s last overseas trip was to Greece when she was 83 years young.
Mary was a loving, dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. Her big, bright smile and homemade pies will be cherished by her children David (Lois Foehringer), Steven (Cynthia Osmundsen), Christina Merchant Weber, and Anne Birge; her grandchildren Hannah (Trey Waters), Max, Emma, Ward (Shannon Bonn) and Molly Weber, Coleman, Sarah, Katy, Dylan and Maya; great grandchildren Ward and Lyle Waters; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Dennis and Shirly Cone and brother-in-law Jack Booker. She is preceded in death by her husband Ward, parents Ora and Helen, her sister Barbara, her brother-in-law and sister-in-law Jim and Helen Merchant, and her son Michael.