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Thema Mae Merten - February 10, 2010


Thema Mae Merten, the second of seven children, was born Oct. 3, 1910 in the Post Office at Venango, Neb. to Emery and Janie Watkins.
She died Feb. 10, 2010 at her home in Coos Bay, Ore. of age-related causes. She was 99 years old.
After graduating from Perkins County High School, Thema left home for nurses training and marriage during the final days of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl that drove so many from the Plains to find new careers in the West. She received her R.N. degree in 1932 from the Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Hastings, Neb.
She married Stanley Merten Dec. 25, 1933 in Central City, Neb. In early 1934 Stan and Thema moved to Marshfield (now Coos Bay), Ore. Thema worked at McAuley Hospital and then 24 years as the office nurse for Dr. Pennington. Stanley passed away Dec. 22, 1997.
She was a member of the Beta Sigma Chi Sorority for 50 years. She loved reading, needlework and, especially, spending time with her family.
In 1973 she enjoyed visiting several countries in Europe with her brothers Dean and Kenneth and their wives. Thema was known as a woman of gentleness, humor and class.
Thema is survived by her daughter Kay Smith of Ketchikan, Alaska, five grandchildren: Kevin White, Leslie McGraw, Desiree, Dawn and Travis Smith; goddaughters Ashley and Mallory Pennington; brothers Howard of Coos Bay, and Kenneth of Houston, Texas and sister Dolores Sexson of Grant, Neb.
She was preceded in death by her husband, daughter Gene White, brothers Orville and Dean and sister Lenore Jacobson.
A celebration of life was held Feb. 23, 2010 at Nelson’s Bay Are Mortuary for Thema Mae Merten of Coos Bay, Ore. Inurnment was at Sunset Memorial park where she will be placed next to her husband Stanley. An additional memorial service will be held in August in Grant.
The family suggests memorial gifts to the First Presbyterian Church, 2238 Pony Creek Rd., North Bend, OR 97459 or to XI Master Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi (in care of Mrs. Muriel Brainard, 63533 Flanagan Rd., Coos Bay, OR 97420) and indicate that it is for a nursing scholarship in memory of Thema Merten.