Merle JoAnn (Grabow) Smith, 84, of Renville, died Tuesday, October 15, 2019, at Renville Health Services in Renville. Funeral services will be at 1:30 p.m. Friday, October 25, at First Lutheran Church in Renville, with Pastor Jane Crawford and Pastor Matt Hausken officiating. Burial is at the City Cemetery in Morton. Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, October 24, at Dirks-Blem Funeral Home in Olivia and one hour prior to the funeral service at First Lutheran Church in Renville. Memorials preferred to Renville County Hospice.
Merle Smith was born October 10, 1935, at Renville to John and Dora (Rice) Grabow. She was baptized and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Renville. One of five children, her siblings were Dallas, David, Roger and Eunice. She attended Renville schools before graduating in 1953. Merle married Robert (Bob) Smith on January 31, 1954, at First Lutheran Church in Renville. The couple lived in Baltimore, Maryland, during Bob’s military service. Upon returning home, they settled in the Renville area where they were blessed with three children Paul, Diane and Nancy, raising them on the family farm north of Renville.
Merle loved to bake, known for her homemade flaky fruit and lemon meringue pies and cinnamon rolls. She was also a wonderful seamstress. Merle loved working with numbers throughout her life, as a bookkeeper at the Renville Creamery, at the Danube Coop and her last job as a checkout clerk at Curt’s Super Valu (Now Maynard’s). She was a 4-H leader, honorary FFA member and active member of First Lutheran. And she loved her roses, always had a knack for growing fragrant beautiful blooms, mostly to give away to others in need of a special act of kindness. She also played Bridge with her girlfriends and went to the Get-together Club for close to 50 years! Her kindness, hugs, kisses and love were boundless for people around her. Who remembers being on the receiving end of one of her wrap-around hugs or dodging a kiss on the lips? When not farming, she and Bob enjoyed summers at Big Kandi and later winters in Apache Junction, AZ, during their retirement years. Her faith was her anchor, and she never complained when God put a few challenges in her life in the years to come – a brain aneurysm at age 54, ovarian cancer, macular degeneration, dementia and stroke. Yet her kindness and warmth toward others were stronger than the diseases themselves. Never once did Merle waiver in her faith. And her humor was second to none. Those who met her loved her. She was a joyful woman, often reciting familiar Bible verses or singing hymns perfectly until the last few days of her beautiful life. She was a teacher to all, and once we realized her resiliency, patience and strength were part of the legacy she gifted to us all, we all found peace… seeing life through her eyes with courage, faith and laughter.
Merle is survived by her children Paul (and Carol) Smith of Northfield, Diane Hrabe of Henderson, Nancy (and Jason) Krumheuer of Olivia; grandchildren Paul (and Kate) Smith of Savage; Michael Smith of St. Paul; Josh (and Allie) Hrabe of Lonsdale; Melissa Hrabe (and fiancé Casey Peterson) of Burnsville; Bethany Hrabe (and special friend Chris Gibson) of Apple Valley; Casey (and Kirk) Elfering of Olivia; Brad (and Chantel) Elbert of Glenwood; Danny Elbert (and fiance Kaylee Katich) of Norwalk, Ohio, and Bailey Elbert of Mankato; great-grandchildren Lily, Brayden, Holden and Lula Smith; Kenley, Elin and Kye Elfering; Parker Hrabe; Emma and Ahna Elbert; Baby Boy Elbert to be born soon and Baby Hrabe in April 2020; sisters-in-law Hellen Grabow of Renville and Mona Wright of Alexandria; and many nieces, nephews and friends. She is preceded in death by her husband, Bob, who died on May 9, 2019; her siblings; and her parents.
Dirks-Blem Funeral Service offers many styles of services to honor the memory of your loved one. Funerals should be meaningful, reflect the individual, and celebrate the life they led. Personalized funerals are more involved, giving people a chance to remember what made that individual so unique.