It is with mixed emotions, in one sense great sorrow and in another, relief, that the family of Merle Jore announce his passing on August 11, 2021. Sorrow because we have lost a patriarch and a good man…relief because his last year was lived in too much discomfort. Merle was born, he always used to say, “on a rock in North Dakota on October 10, 1939.” His mother, Merriam (Hallan), and his father, Ben, moved to the Mission Valley, bringing along Merle and his brother, Gordon, as small children.
Ben passed away when Merle and “Gordy” were in high school. Merriam passed in 1972 and Gordy in 2012. Merle also had three half-sisters, Cora, Eleanor, and Lucille, and two half-brothers, Phil and Bill (the Langland family).
Merle was an exceptional athlete in high school. He likely could have gone on to college and was invited to practice with the University of Montana track and field team. He was especially good at pole vaulting, even back when the poles would barely bend. Harry Adams, U of M coach at the time, told Merle that he was “too short, too slow, and vaulting two feet higher than he should be.”
Merle apparently decided that fatherhood was going to be his chosen career, because he got started on it while still in high school. He lucked out and fell in love with a young Snyder girl named Faye. The two of them figured out how to make babies and had six of them by the time they were both twenty-three years old. Rick (Nancy), Roger (Ola), and Mike (Tonya) were born to teenage parents. Roxy (Randy), Matt (Bobbi), and Maxine were next. Six kids in six and half years.
Merle “Cedar Sam” as his great friends called him, worked at Plum Creek Lumber Mill for 34 years. Merle and Faye somehow snagged a 160-acre piece of property up on the base of Mount Harding. They drove on an old logging road a couple of miles up the mountain to get to the property, where relatives helped them build a “cabin” that became both a home and a destination for hundreds of friends and family for several decades. They even put in a Ski Run with a rope tow powered by an old six-cylinder engine on pulleys. They hosted many inner-tube and sledding parties as their six kids and all their friends grew through childhood and into high school.
It would be a good guess to say that Merle and Faye drove on every road in Montana traveling around the state to wrestling tournaments. Seat belts were surely not their thing because usually there were too many kids…often times six plus two or three extra…because that was how these two rolled: their home and arms were always open for friends and relatives.
Their love generated 23 grandkids, 59 great - grandkids, and 12 great - great grandkids…too many to list, but each and every one of them loved deeply by Merle and Faye.
In a sense, Merle and Faye were “parents” to all the kids in the Ronan schools. They rarely missed a sporting event. Merle had many, many lifelong friends. After 47 years of marriage, Merle lost Faye in 2003 and he continued their tradition of support for Ronan kids right up to his last days. They are rejoined and we celebrate them both for a lifetime of memories.
A Potluck celebration of Merle’s life will be at Ronan Community Center on Friday, August 20, 2021 at 3:00 pm.