On October 8, 2019, M. Mearlene “Mert” Wheeler Garner Ashby, our beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, passed away peacefully at the age of 67. Mert was born as a leap year baby on February 29, 1952 in Arco, Idaho to Mearl and Alice Marie Taylor Wheeler and spent most of her life in Paul, Idaho. She moved to Salt Lake City and married Robert B. Garner in 1972; they raised two children: Hillari Marie and R. Brandon. Mert and Bob divorced in 1993. In 1997, she met Kenneth R. Ashby. They were engaged within five days of their first date and married on December 7, 1997. During their 21 years together, they traveled the world, including her favorite places: Israel, New Zealand, Russia, and the Amazon. In April 2017, her beloved Ken passed away unexpectedly. Shortly before then, she was diagnosed with end stage renal failure disease, which she fought until her passing.
Mert had an incredible talent for music and a beautiful singing voice. She studied piano and opera, and won a vocal scholarship to Ricks College at 18. She sang in and directed numerous college, civic, and church choirs. She had great talent for interior decorating and fashion. Never wanting to look “old,” she always dressed herself and her homes with modernity and class. As a child, she read crime drama and detective comic books and developed a passion for criminal investigation work. She spent over 20 years in various public safety jobs, including private security, TSA/Homeland security, and criminal laboratory administration. Her passion for crime drama was matched only by her love of cats. She was blessed with additional children and grandchildren after marrying Ken, all of whom she loved very much. She was especially blessed and finally felt that her family was complete with the adoption of her grandson, Harrison, by her son and his wife. As the quintessential ‘redhead,’ she was stubborn in matters that were important to her. She was equally a compassionate, caring, and laughter-loving person who made friends with everyone she met. She touched the hearts of countless people, and will be missed by all who knew her.
Mert was preceded in death by her parents: Alice and Mearl; two brothers: Mearl Jr. and Larry; and her husband: Ken. She is survived by her daughter: Hillari Garner; son: Brandon Garner (Melissa) and grandson: Harrison; sister: Janice Barnes; brother: Dee Wheeler (Linda); step-son: Kevin Ashby (Kay) and children; step-daughters: Julie Kirkman (Roger), Kaye Stevens (Mark), Kendra Johnson (Todd), Gayle Smith (Brandon), and children; and dozens of cousins, nieces, and nephews.
A Memorial Service and lunch party will be held on Saturday, October 19 at 11:00am at the Oquirrh Lake Stake Center, 4517 W. Mille Lacs Dr., South Jordan, UT. Guests may share memories publicly via open mic during lunch. Interment and dedication service will be on Sunday, October 20 at 11:00am at the Delta City Cemetery, 450 E. 750 N., Delta, UT. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to favored charities or to 4453 W. South Jordan Pkwy, South Jordan, UT 84009.