Merry Lee Pankratz, age 80 of Hazelhurst, died on Saturday, May 11 with her family by her side. Merry was born on April 28, 1939 in Butternut, the daughter of Ronald and Gwen (nee Jeske) Felch.

The arboreal lifestyle in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest requires looking harder and farther for the things that one desires in life. For Merry Lee Pankratz the true love that she always desired was conveniently found sitting next to her at work at the nurses station in the Intensive Care Unit at Howard Young Memorial Hospital. Even more improbable was the fact that her future husband Tom lived 10 miles out of town in the woods where he could walk out his front door and throw a rock across Rux Road and hit her house with it. Fate had determined that they were going to get to know each other. Tom and Merry Pankratz’s improbable 40 year romance ended today when Merry passed away. Cause of death was life. A lifetime overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. A lifetime of doing her job and caring for others. Her body wore out from the incredible effort that she put into her 80 years of life.

Merry Lee Pankratz embodied the belief that it isn’t possible to have a sense of tragedy without having a sense of humor. She loved her family, her friends, her dogs and her horses. Her passion and skill for nursing was matched by her talents in the kitchen and garden. Merry was a voracious reader, a devout Christian and a lifelong vinyl record enthusiast. She passed with a juke box in her living room loaded with 45s of Elvis, Willie, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristopherson (who she had a not-so-secret crush on).

Merry Pankratz died in Hazelhurst, 80 years and 60 miles from where she was born in Butternut. She leaves behind her husband, the heartbroken love of her life, Tom Pankratz; her equally devastated children Dawn, Dan and Roberta. She is survived by her older sister Gail. Merry is responsible for and helped raise exceptional grandchildren in the form of Rebecca, Matthew, Josh, Kylie, Colin, Matt, Nick, Lea, Fawn and Maxwell, as well as her great-grandchildren Deven and Lexi. As Merry departs she says goodbye to her many dear friends, special thanks to Ramona, Annie and Cleo.

Upon her wishes cremation took place and a private celebration of life will take place.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Ascension Dr. Kate Lakeland Hospice, Box 770, Woodruff, WI 54568.

Online condolences may be shared at www.nimsgernfuneral.com. Nimsgern Funeral & Cremation Services is serving the family.