Justine Evelyn Merritt
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 by The Daily Sentinel on Jan. 18, 2009.
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The question was asked, “Who is your Ms. Hart?”—in other words, “what teacher impacted your life?” Ms. Merritt came to my mind and So I googled her and saw she had died in 2009.
She was my English teacher during my years at Unity H.S. in Chicago. She saw something in me and so, I didn’t have to do the majority of assignments my other classmates did. I had to read novels, biographies, etc. and write about them and discuss them with her. She was definitely ahead of her time as far as her thinking about how reading and writing should be taught. I know this because I became a teacher/reading teacher.
It was Ms. Merritt who introduced me to the writings of Maya Angelou, way back in 1973. Maya Angelou remains an author dear to my heart.
I also love to read, write and dabble with poetry.
When my family moved to South America, I stayed in contact with Ms. Merritt. She shared her poetry with me, told me about “the ribbon,” and we even got together for lunch. I was living in DC at the time. I loved Ms. Merritt. I am so sorry we lost contact in the 2000s. She will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Robin Jackson Rubio
Student
April 6, 2021
I met Justine in Niger back in 1976. I remember her well. When I had to get a visa for Nigeria in Niamey she allowed me to use her shower A very kind woman. She even wrote me a letter in 1977 and asked how my African experience ha gone. She wrote me a poem about the birds I so adore. I dont think I wrote back but I should have. RIP Justine
william Herring
August 9, 2020
I had the great privilege of knowing Justine. We met in the early 1990s at my shop, Quilt Junction, in downtown Grand Junction.

I donated fabric for Justine's International Ribbon Peace project and she gave me a cherished ribbon for my quilt/fiber collection.

Justine's banner was the beginning of The Ribbon. On it she embroidered the names of friends and relatives, loved ones who would be lost in a nuclear war. Her dedication to others and world peace will always be remembered.

I had the honor of spending Christmas day with Justine when she lived in Grand Junction.
Fay Timmerman
January 28, 2009
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