Kathleen Mary (Sunderland) McMerty was born May 23rd 1915 to Susan and Harold Sunderland in Milton, ND. Kathleen was raised and attended school in Milton, ND before enrolling at Moorhead State College in Moorhead MN where she graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. Kathleen taught school in Nekoma and Crystal ND. She married Francis McMerty in January 1940. They made their home in Crystal ND and Park River ND before moving to Fargo in 1943 where they raised their nine children. Kathleen was very involved in the lives and activities of her children. She was a Campfire Girl leader, 4-H Club leader, Cub Scout Den Mother, St. Anthony school room mother and a Jefferson grade school room mother. Kathleen taught religious education for a number of years at St. Anthony’s school through the CCD program. She was President of the Ladies Guild at St. Anthony’s as well. When Kathleen and Francis moved to north Fargo and joined St. Mary’s parish, she joined the church choir and enjoyed her time with the choir immensely. Kathleen served as the Chairwoman of the wedding reception committee at St. Mary’s and was also a board member of the St. Mary’s Guild. Kathleen was a charter member of the Diocesan Cursillo Movement and actively participated in many weekend 2 day Cursillos. She was recognized for her 40 years of service working on election boards where for the final 10 years of service she was the Election Supervisor for her precinct. Kathleen was the President, Secretary and Treasurer at different times for the Red River Valley Homemakers, she was also the President, Secretary, Treasurer at different times for the Railway Mail Clerks Auxiliary. She logged in over 2,700 volunteer service hours at St. John’s hospital. Kathleen delivered Meals on Wheels for over 10 years and was recognized along with Francis as Volunteers of the Year for Fargo in 1986 for their involvement in these activities as well as the St. Vincent DePaul Society where they donated countless volunteer hours helping the poor and under served community members in the Fargo area. Kathleen loved to travel and in between visiting her children, she travelled through most of the mainland USA and also to Ireland, Hawaii, Costa Rica, France, Italy,Spain, Austria, Czech Republic, Honduras, Chile, Argentina, Alaska, various Caribbean locations, the Panama Canal, and her last trip was in September of 2013 when she went on a River cruise on the Danube from Budapest to Prague 3 months after she broke her leg! She had a love of life that was unmatched! Kathleen was affectionately known as “GG” by her grandchildren who will miss her, as will those of us who knew her as Mom, Sis, Kathleen, and friend. As the poet Fred Chappell wrote “How powerful a presence is her absence.”
Kathleen was preceded in death by her husband, daughter-in-law Charlene, grandsons John Michel and Brian James, and her nine siblings. She is survived by her children: John (Joan) McMerty, Denton TX, Jim (Julie) McMerty, Edina MN, Michel (Rita) McMerty, Azle TX, Laurence (Kathy) McMerty, Bismarck ND, Kathy (Gary) Denault, St. Paul, MN, Jeanie McMerty (John Brummer) Moorhead, MN, Trish (Bob) Walls, Sunderland MD, Brian (Lyell) Wilmington NC, and Peter, St. Paul MN. Kathleen is also survived by 22 grandchildren, 38 great grandchildren and 5 great-great grandchildren.