Mernice was born January 1, 1919, in Monticello, UT to Elmer Bailey and Alberta Perkins.
When she was seven, her mother passed away leaving four young children.
Growing up during the Depression, the family was often hungry, their shoes had holes and their dad was often away from home searching for work. Those times taught Mernice the value of hard work, the importance of thrift, a knack for ingenuity and mostly a love of family.
Mernice loved sports and was a star on her high school basketball team, as well as having the lead in the school play. She won an award for naming the school paper, the Lariat, which remains to this day.
At age 12, Mernice began sewing her own clothes, with no patterns to follow.
She would babysit for 10 cents a night to earn money for material. She also worked plucking turkeys for five cents a turkey.
In 1936, Mernice married Farrell Bates and moved to Anaconda, where they raised six children.
She continued to sew, and make clothes. After she had children, she learned to knit. Her first project was not a potholder, but a tweed suit! She could knit, crochet and write great poems.
She wasn’t afraid to tackle anything, from building a log house and a rock garage, bunk beds with built-in drawers – again with no pattern – to putting a roof on the house (when seven months pregnant).
Those who knew her remember her sense of style, quick wit and sense of humor which got her through some hard times.
She was a charter member of the Millcreek Home Demonstration Club and held many offices many times. As president of the Beaver Dam PTA, she was instrumental in getting the hot school lunch program started. As there was no money in the budget, she made curtains for the kitchen on her own.
Mernice was loved and respected by family and friends, and her home was always open to her children and their friends.
After 36 years of marriage, Farrell passed away. Mernice later married Harold Wolfe.
Mernice is survived by children Curtis (Dorothy) Bates, Sandra (Arden) Ekstrom, Cathy (Don) Doucet, Micki (Jim) Johnson and Barry (Janete) Bates; daughter-in-law, Ximena Olave Bates; 21 grandchildren; 54 great-grandchildren; nine great-great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by husbands Parley Farrell Bates and Harold Wolfe; son Robert Keith Bates; granddaughters Kerri Ekstrom and Candice Heaps; sister Maxine Allred Webb; and brothers Jerald Bailey and Kirk Bailey.
Funeral Services for Mernice were held Saturday, October 22, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Anaconda.
Interment followed at the Sunset Memorial Gardens.
Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral & Cremation Service handled Mernice’s funeral arrangements.
Pay your condolences at www.longfellowfinneganriddle.com.