Merle Vivian Cahill, 98

Published 11:10 am Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Merle Vivian Cahill, 98, passed away Nov. 2, 2014, at Sacred Heart Care Center in Austin, with the blessing of a steady stream of family and friends who had come to say goodbye to their beloved mom, grandmother and friend.



“Merle Viv” was a lifelong Austin resident, born on Dec. 31, 1915, at St. Olaf Hospital to George and Ellen (Torgerson) Arett. Merle attended Lincoln Elementary School and Austin High School, completing the ninth grade before she had to quit school to work full-time to help her family. An excellent student, this was one of her very few regrets in life. Merle was confirmed at St. Olaf Church and had a solid Christian faith.

She married her beloved husband James E. Cahill on Sept. 2, 1939, at Queen of Angels. Part of the “greatest generation,” Merle worked at Hormel Foods through her husband’s duty in the South Pacific during World War II. Merle and Jim added to the baby boom generation, having five children, and it was her greatest joy to become a full-time mother and homemaker.

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Merle was an outstanding cook and baker, going fully over the top decorating and making special foods for every holiday. She assisted Jim in holding weekend auctions and together they were active in service clubs, especially the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Merle had good business sense and became a top Avon sales lady for many years, enjoying her business.

Merle had a passionate interest in life and people. She enjoyed travel, especially Ireland, Germany and Norway and her special favorites in the U.S. were Washington, D.C. and the Big Island of Hawaii. Always savvy about current events, sports, political issues or some subject in life that caught her attention, Merle was fun and interesting to talk with. Indeed, her generous heart, quick wit and practical wisdom made her a favorite with all who knew her.

“Merle the Pearl,” “Grammy Mammy” and “Merley Perley” will be missed by her family who love her so deeply.

She is survived by her five children: James E. Cahill (Laura), Riverside, California, Nancy (Jerry) Ulwelling, Austin, Sandra (Michael) Krug, Chicago, Illinois, Michael Cahill, Austin, and Gail Dennison, Austin. Merle had nine grandchildren; ten great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Merle was preceded in death by her parents; husband Jim; and all her siblings: Chet, Edward, Alfred and Agnes (Schultz), all of Austin.

It is with hearts of gratitude that the family thanks the wonderful management and staff of Sacred Heart Care Center. Their outstanding care of Merle has made this chapter of our lives comforting and easier.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 7, at the Worlein Funeral Home Chapel with Pastor Dave Simerson officiating. Visitation to celebrate Merle’s life will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at Worlein Funeral Home in Austin on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, and one hour prior to the service on Friday. Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at Rest in peace, Merley.