Sybil Merkley, a lifetime resident of the area, passed away at the Winchester District Memorial Hospital on Wed., Dec. 17, 2008. She was 88.
She was born Sybil Gertrude Black on Dec. 28, 1919, one of seven daughters and four sons raised on the family farm in Mountain by their parents Harold and Mabel Black.
Family members characterize Sybil as a loving, caring and supporting woman with a big heart. Large hearted and generous, she was areal “people person”. These are just some of the ways that Sybil’s upbringing ultimately manifested itself. Growing up and learning to work on a farm has given many a young person an excellent start in this world.
It was no wonder then, that she eventually married a farmer herself. Sybil and Walter Clayton Merkley were married in 1938. He was about nine years older than she was and a confirmed Lutheran since 1929.
She joined St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Dunbar in 1940 as an adult member, taking an active part in the life of the congregation and serving as a member of church council.
Sybil and Walter looked after a small dairy herd, milking by hand, besides looking after a couple of horses, some pigs, and a few chickens. She kept her own garden, and canned her own vegetables and jams. She enjoyed baking, cooking, sewing her own clothes, and visiting, whether it was in person or on the phone.
Although she never had any children of her own, she fulfilled the role of mother on more than one occasion. In 1948, when her sister Mona was confined to a hospital while recovering from tuberculosis, she took Lynda, her five-month-old niece, and raised her for the next six years. From the age of six onwards, Lynda would return to Walter and Sybil’s home every weekend for a visit. For many reasons, Lynda has always thought of Sybil as her second mother. There are fond memories of those Saturday nights when the three of them would gather around the TV set with some hot buttered popcorn to watch the Lawrence Welk Show and then, to top it all off, Hockey Night In Canada. They were all Leafs fans back then, even though Sybil started cheering for the Senators in later years.
Between 1957 and 1960, following the sudden death of her sister-in-law, Norma Black, Sybil brought Norma’s daughter, Debbie, over to the farm and helped raise her for three or four years.
After Walter passed away in 1983, Sybil stayed on the farm for two or three more years before moving to the Millview Apartments in Winchester. Over the years there, she has made many friends. She will be sadly missed by her neighbours, especially Edna, Marie, and Jake, who visited her regularly.
She is survived by her daughter Lynda Marcell of Kemptville, and her siblings Sheila (Joe) Hopkins of Spencerville, and Garry Black (Louella Smail) of Morrisburg. She was predeceased by sisters Alice Casselman, Audrey McGowan, Mona Marcell, Frances Hogg, Edna Brown, and brothers Norman, Bert, and Gerald Black. She is also survived by nieces and nephews.
Friends called at the Marsden and McLaughlin Funeral Home in Williamsburg on Fri. from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 pm. The funeral service was held at the funeral home on Sat., Dec. 20 at 11 am with Rev. Joachim Barkley-Probst officiating., followed by interment at Maple Ridge Cemetery in Chesterville. The pallbearers were Garry Black, Richard Hess, Oswald Linton, Lyle Smith, Ray Dillabough, and Wayne Barkley.
Donations to Winchester District Memorial Hospital or St. Luke’s Lutheran Church would be appreciated by the family.