Justine Evelyn Merritt
1924 - 2009
Justine Merritt, international peace activist, artist and poet died January 7 in Eugene, Oregon. She had lived in Grand Junction for ten years, 1989 -1999.
Justine was born March 31, 1924, to Roy and Lucille Miller in St. Louis where she lived and received her early education. Later she graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism. Subsequently she worked as a high school teacher, artist and author.
In 1945 she married chemical engineer, Glen Merritt, and the two moved to Illinois where they raised five children and Justine continued to teach. During the 1960's she became deeply involved in civil rights issues eventually divorcing her husband and leaving her teaching position.
In 1982 Justine turned her attention to promoting world peace as she introduced her idea of a ribbon to be created by individuals who would each decorate a yard of material with images of what they would most grieve in case of nuclear war. In 1985 the ribbons were carried to Washington, DC, where 15,000 volunteers strung the panels together in a single piece of artwork that stretched around the Pentagon and far beyond.
In 1989 Justine moved to Grand Junction where she continued to speak to groups about peace and justice issues, to read her poetry aloud and to create her beautiful embroidery. With her warm personality, creative mind and infections laugh, Justine made many friends during the time she spent among us in the Grand Valley. Then, as her great energies began to wane, she retired to Eugene, Oregon to be near her devoted children.
She is survived by four daughters, one son, a sister, 12 grandchildren, six great grandchildren and several step-grandchildren.
Memorial services for Justine were held in Eugene, Oregon on Friday, January 9.
Published in The Daily Sentinel on Jan. 18, 2009.