Merlene Dorothea Schliesman, 73, died at her home in Wilmot, South Dakota, on Sunday morning, September 27, 2015, after a brief battle with lung cancer.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday afternoon, October 1, at 2:00 p.m. in the Wilmot Lutheran Church, 401 Ordway Street, with Reverend Sheila Pohl officiating. Her cremated remains will be interred in the Wilmot City Cemetery, and lunch will follow at the Wilmot Community Center.
Mer was born in Wilmot to Merlin and Ruby Van Hoorn on March 2, 1942. She was the first of their four children: Merlene, Allen Gene, Vivene, and Dennis Dene. Their family moved to Corona and then to Spring Creek 1953-1957 where she began dating Bobby Schliesman. In 1957, the family returned to Wilmot, where Mer attended high school and graduated in 1960. On June 4, 1961, she married Bob at the Wilmot Lutheran Church where she was a member, and would remain so for another 54 years. When Bob was drafted into the US Army (the last married draftee from Roberts County), she followed him to Fort Richie and they lived in Cascade, Maryland, from 1963-1965. During that time, daughter Rolene was born in 1964. When they returned to Wilmot, they moved into 406 Third Avenue where they have lived, loved, and resided since that time. Interestingly, their home is located across the street from where she was born. In 1976, Mer and Bob kept their same address but changed houses, moving and rehabilitating one from the country. In 1970 after the death of her mother, Mer began bookkeeping for her father at Van Hoorn Electric, which she continued until the business closed in 1994. Mer and Bob purchased the electrical business from Van Hoorn Electric in 1974 and began Schliesman Electric. Mer kept the books until retirement in July of 2011.
In 1971, she gave birth to daughter Jolene and two years later to son Rodrick. She served on the Wilmot School Board 1971-1977, Wilmot Community Club 1974-2011, Wilmot Improvement Association for more than 20 years, Wilmot City Council 1985-1996, and was the treasurer for many groups and boards. At one time, Mer was managing six checkbooks. She enjoyed working in the US Post Office-Wilmot for a year. Mer actively participated in church and school as her children grew up, serving in Ladies Aid 1961-2005, and Sunday School teacher 1969-1991 and superintendent for over 15 years, as well as PTA, band parents, and dozens of fundraisers. She proudly attended all of her kids’ activities from grade school musical concerts through high school and college graduations, marriages, and births of her grandchildren. She never understood the game, but faithfully went to all of Rod’s and Garrett’s football games, watched them run up and down the field, and honked the horn when they made good plays.
Mer enjoyed her family and all we did together, solving crossword puzzles, seeing all the other small towns and playing nickels in the one-armed bandits on the weekends, winning 6-5-4 with the guys and not buying coffee, keeping a super tidy home, and visiting relatives and friends. Teal was her favorite color – in her clothing, décor, and even her vehicles. Since about 2011, Mer slowly slipped into dementia but loved to drive around Wilmot daily, smoke Kools, and keep track of all the little changes in town. She was a strong, opinionated woman who loved her family fiercely, worked hard, and finished every job she started. She will be deeply missed by all who loved her.
She is preceded in death by her parents Merlin Henry Van Hoorn and Ruby Marion Wilkie Van Hoorn, and brother Allen Gene Van Hoorn. She is survived by her husband Robert Schliesman, sister Vivene Van Hoorn Nielsen (m. James Nielsen) of Baxter/Brainerd, Minnesota, and brother Dennis Dean Van Hoorn (m. Cheryl Anderson Van Hoorn) of Washburn, North Dakota, children Rolene Ruby Schliesman (m. Kent N. Good) of Wilmot, Jolene Judy Schliesman Christensen (m. David G. Christensen) of Wilmot, and Rodrick Robert Schliesman (m. Jennifer Carawan Schliesman) of Stafford, Virginia, grandchildren (oldest to youngest) Lance Good of Bismarck, North Dakota, Devon Good Brew (m. Nadine Brew) of Bismarck, North Dakota, Danielle Green Hughes (m. James Hughes) of Portsmouth, Virginia, Kayla Jo Christensen of Wilmot, Garrett Gordon Christensen of Watertown, and Madison Layne Schliesman of Stafford, Virginia, and goddaughter Leah Lauseng of Florence.