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Life Story / Obituary
With unending love and unconditional acceptance for those around her, Nancy Mercer touched the lives of so many others in such a special way. As a lifelong resident of the community she loved, she made it a point to be available to anyone who needed a listening ear. A more devoted mother would be hard to find, and Nancy cherished each and every moment spent with the ones she loved. She had high morals and standards, and her life was an inspiration to all who were near. Life will never be the same without Nancy here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
The 1930s were trying days in the United States and largely the world over as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Despite the challenges, the American spirit could still be seen in noteworthy events like the completion of the Empire State Building and the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This same time was met with great anticipation for Howard Vincent and Ruth Elizabeth (Richardson) Myler as they were awaiting the birth of their new baby as the beauty of spring began to unfold in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1936. Their wait was finally over on April 29 as the baby girl they named Nancy Jean made her grand entrance. Her father had immigrated to the United States from Ireland while her mother was from Indiana.
The oldest of three, Nancy was raised in the family home on Ferris Street in Northwest Grand Rapids alongside her brothers, Patrick and Michael. The three siblings were very close and Nancy was protective of her younger brothers. To support their family, her father worked for the Kent County Road Commission while her mother was a busy homemaker. Nancy’s family were devout Catholics. As a family they attended Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, followed by Holy Trinity Catholic in Comstock Park, and finally Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Grand Rapids. Nancy attended Saint Anthony Catholic Elementary School. During her high school years she spent both her freshman and sophomore years at West Catholic High School and her junior and senior years at Catholic Central. Nancy was an exceptional student who also self-taught herself piano and loved to sing. She went on to graduate from high school in 1954.
Even at a young age, family was of the utmost importance to Nancy. When her brother, Pat, was being bullied in the school yard at one time Nancy “took down” the bully. Another time when this same brother was excluded from eating lunch with his classmates by a teacher (a Nun), Nancy called her mother and reported the incident. Her mother then came to school immediately to address the situation with the Nun. As a family they spent all holidays with extended family, often in Detroit with her grandparents. There were always lots, family time, and plenty of wrapped gifts for Christmas. During the summer Nancy would travel to Detroit to spend weeks helping her grandmother run a boarding house while she was growing up. She would also help her other grandparents with farm chores on their farm, although she hated having to pluck bugs and worms from the tomato plants. Nancy enjoyed helping, but she was also so thrilled to learn to ride an old sway back horse on this farm.
Not to be forgotten during her years in school was Nancy’s introduction to the young man of her dreams. His name was Walter Mercer, and she went on a blind date with him only to avoid having to go out with another boy. There was magic on that date as Walter declared that Nancy would be his wife one day. He was one step closer when the two became engaged while Nancy was still in her senior year. In fact, she had to conceal her engagement ring on a chain around her neck under her blouse! Called to serve his country, Walter was sent overseas, and when he returned home he found work at American Seating. Of the greatest importance upon his return, however, was his sweetheart, and on June 2, 1956, Walter married his beloved Nancy, at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church after dating for two years.
Eager to begin their lives together, Nancy and Walter rented an apartment for a time before buying a home at 500 Springfield NW. They later moved to 1050 Parkhurst, NW, and eventually bought their third home at 25 Ann Street, all located within Grand Rapids. Nancy worked as a bookkeeper, and she worked at several places over the years. Her last job was at DeWys Engineering in Coopersville, which she enjoyed.
There was never anything more enjoyable in Nancy’s life than her six children including Bonnie, Wendy, Christine, William and Walter, and Kevin. Sadly, their twins, William and Walter, were born with a rare genetic disorder called Hunter Syndrome and died when they were only nine years old. Some of their favorite times of joy as a family were spent at their family cottage at Big Star Lake in Newago County. As a family they loved every moment spent at the cottage, and these times were of the utmost importance to Nancy. In addition to spending time at the cottage, the family took trips to Disney World, to Florida to visit grandparents, and to Detroit to visit her brother. Later in life, Nancy became a grandmother, and she couldn’t have been more thrilled. If their was an event, game, or school activity with her grandchildren Nancy was always there. In many ways she was the rock of her family, and they knew she would always be there for them no matter what.
Over the years Nancy was a woman of many interests. She wasn’t a huge fan of cooking, but her family loved her homemade potato salad. Nancy had a sweet tooth and loved chocolate, Bridge Mix, and getting ice cream from Jones Ice Cream near the cottage at Big Star. During their retirement years Nancy and Walter traveled to Las Vegas and Arizona, always making it a road trip. For many years they were avid bowlers who were on many leagues and teams. Nancy and Walter liked eating out at Swan’s Inn, Arnie’s Restaurant, and Brann’s Steak house. As a lifelong learner she got into interior design as an adult and even took some interior design classes, too. Nancy liked playing board games, and it has been said that she was fiercely competitive. In fact, even when she was playing with her grandchildren she didn’t let them win! Very smart and social, Nancy was on the leadership committee for “Right To Life” for many years. She loved reading, and among her favorites were mystery novels and Reader’s Digest Magazine, and she also kept her mind sharp with puzzle books or word search books. In addition, Nancy liked watching Murder, She Wrote. When it came to her favorite music she liked Frank Sinatra and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Nancy had an impressive doll collection that she built over many years.
All who knew Nancy Mercer would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She could be a bit feisty at times and was the disciplinarian in the house, but she was also patient, loving, and forgiving. Nancy treasured her family and was always there for them. She was the sort of person who was accepting of everyone, and following through was always important to Nancy. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.
Nancy Jean Mercer of Grand Rapids, MI died Thursday, November 4, 2021. She was born in Grand Rapids in the spring of 1936 to the late Howard and Ruth Myler. Along with her parents she is preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Walter and their twin sons Walter and William, their daughter Christine Mercier and her brother Patrick Myler. She is survived by her children: Bonnie (Jeff) Sweet, Wendy (Tim) Robinson and Kevin (Melissa) Mercer; seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and brother Michael Myler as well as by many nieces and nephews and in-laws. The Mass of Christian Burial for Nancy will take place Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 11 AM at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, (2230 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). Friends may meet with her family prior to the service at 10 AM. Nancy will be laid to rest next to Walter in Rosdale Memorial Park. For those who wish, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association Greater Michigan Chapter, (4081 Cascade Rd. SE, Suite 400, Grand Rapids, MI 49546). To leave a favorite memory or photo of Nancy or to sign her guest book online, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com