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Beverly Paul Merrill was born on December 20, 1926, in Ogden, Utah, to Bradley Hinckley Paul, and Grace Wheelwright Paul, both lifelong members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, and descendants of good Mormon pioneer stock. She was the third of six children, five of whom survived into adulthood. At the time of her birth her father then owned a small, corner neighborhood grocery store and the family lived in the small apartment above the store. Eventually her father bought the house next to the store, moving the family into this house, and where her parents remained for the rest of their lives.
Beverly attended school, both primary and secondary, in Ogden. Among her favorite classes were arts and literature. The on-set of World War II, as with most Americans, would have a great effect on the course of her life. While still in 10th grade Beverly began volunteering as a nurse’s aide. In December 1944 she had arranged to graduate a semester early so that in January of 1945 she joined the Cadet Corps of Nursing, a government financed education program that provided for the cost of a three year nurse’s training program, with the stipulation that the graduates would remain in nursing at least ninety days beyond the end of the war. The war ended before the completion of her training, but Beverly more than met this stipulation. Within two months the Cadets were working in hospitals, and receiving extensive training in various aspects of nursing. Among others Beverly received training as a surgical nurse and as a pediatrics nurse. Beverly graduated as a Registered Nurse in January 1948.
Beverly went into Public Health, working for the City of Ogden. She also joined the American Red Cross, receiving further training and also becoming a Red Cross Instructor. During a polio epidemic in 1949 she was called by the Red Cross to work week-ends in the polio ward, while maintaining her full-time Public Health job.
Beverly moved to Salt Lake in 1950, and while working full time as a hospital nurse in Salt Lake City, she began attending classes at the University of Utah to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She graduated in 1951.
Beverly had many suitors during these years, but a home town boy named Justice Oliver Craycroft finally won her over, wooing her with his love letters. They were married in Salt Lake City in August 1951. They moved to Logan, Utah where he completed his schooling and she worked in the Logan Hospital.
After his graduation they returned to Salt Lake City where, in 1952, Beverly begin her most satisfying job: as Head Nurse for the newly constructed Primary Children’s Hospital, (which replaced the smaller, much older prior hospital.) As Primary Children’s Hospital was then operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Beverly came into contact with many of the leaders of the church, including then President of the Church David. O. McKay. But, for her, better than that, many of the 70 some children in the hospital called her “Mama.”
In 1954 Justice accepted a position as continuity writer for KBOI Channel Two, in Boise, Idaho and the couple moved there. Beverly continued her career as a nurse there. Through friends from Justice’s work, they became acquainted with Boise Little Theater and became involved in acting, and directing. For the 1955-56 theater season Beverly won Best Actress Award, for playing the titular Peg, in ‘Peg o’ my Heart,’ for which she adopted an Irish accent.
In 1955 Beverly became pregnant with the couple’s first child. Unfortunately, this pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Early in 1956 she became pregnant again. This time her doctor suggested that she quit work and take it easy.
Justice continued his work for the television station and continued his involvement with Boise Little Theater. For the last production of the 1955-56 season, in May 1956, he was serving as an Assistant Director. During the final performance the theater caught fire and burned to the ground. All cast and crew and all audience members successfully escaped the flames; but two men returned into the theater to assure that all had escaped and both were killed. One of these men was Justice.
Following the death of her husband Beverly returned to Ogden, to live with her parents and await the birth of her son.
After the loss of her husband, Beverly feared she would never live her dream of being a mother to many children and having a large family.
Richard was born in September 1956. After his birth she worked again as a hospital nurse.
In May 1957 friends from Boise persuaded Beverly to return to visit them. Unknown to her they had set her up on a blind date with Reid W. Merrill, a poultry farmer from Eagle, Idaho, and a widower. His wife Theo had died suddenly from leukemia, leaving him with three children of his own. Reid and Beverly went dancing together. Subsequent dates also included dancing and Reid was impressed by her endurance.
After their first date Reid invited her to come out to his farm in Eagle and meet his three children: Kathy, age ten, Galan, age eight, and Kirk, age two. During this visit Beverly noted that Galan was seriously ill and insisted that he be taken to the hospital. Later, after returning home, Reid telephoned her to inform her that Galan had been suffering from appendicitis and had arrived at the hospital just in time.
After a whirlwind courtship of four months Reid and Beverly were married in August 1957 and Beverly moved to Eagle to begin life as a farmer’s wife.
Beside suddenly becoming the mother of four children, Beverly also took on the role as bookkeeper for Merrill’s Egg Farm. The early years were lean years, but as with all farming there were prosperous years as well.
Two more children would enter the family: Reid Paul, in 1961 and Laraine in 1964. The Merrill family were members of the early Eagle Branch, (of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,) which soon became the Eagle Ward and through the years Beverly accepted many teaching and leadership roles. Teaching in the Primary, Young Women’s program, and especially many teaching positions in the Relief Society. She also served in many leadership positions including as Relief Society President.
During these years Beverly was also asked to produce and direct many youth theater and ‘Roadshow’ plays. In 1976 she wrote, produced, and directed a Bicentennial musical pageant, telling the 200 year history of the United States through the experiences of a fictional family. Much of this fictional family’s history was based on the pioneer history of her own ancestors.
Reid would also have many leadership roles within the church, including six years as the Eagle Ward Bishop, as well as community leadership roles. Both Reid and Beverly were involved in financing and the construction of the first LDS chapel in Eagle.
After the dedication of the Boise, Idaho Temple in 1986, both Reid and Beverly were called as temple workers, in which capacity Beverly served for nearly the rest of her life. Reid was called to serve as Patriarch of the Eagle, Idaho Stake, with Beverly as his assistant.
As the egg farm grew, Reid became involved in the leadership of the United Egg Producers, a national industry organization. Attending conventions allowed for travel through-out the United States, and lobbying efforts occasionally found the couple in Washington DC where they met with congressional representatives on behalf of the industry.
From week-end trips to visit the grandparents in their early married life, Reid and Beverly became world travelers, visiting Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, including Turkey, Greece, and even returning to Italy where Reid had served much of his time in the US Army, as a laboratory technician in a Field Evacuation Hospital, during the Second World War. (Between Mom and Dad’s much hospital medical experience, we kids only visited the doctor for only the most serious stuff.) But her favorite foreign destination were the Holy Lands.
In November 1989 the Eagle farm was nearly totally destroyed by a devastating fire. The Merrill Clan spent the next ten years rebuilding the farm in Emmett, Idaho.
Beverly finally retired as the Egg Farm bookkeeper. But Dad never retired. In May 1999, after a sudden series of heart attacks, Reid was suddenly and unexpectedly taken from us. He literally ‘died with his boots on.’
Following the death of her second husband Beverly continued as a temple worker and in 2000 she fulfilled another of her dreams: She was called as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to serve eighteen months in the Riverside, California Mission. She performed mostly clerical work for the mission, but had many teaching opportunities with the younger Sister missionaries.
Returning to Eagle, she resumed her duties as a temple worker. Only recently being released from that position. After her release she still faithfully attended the temple each week.
In her latter years Beverly was involved as a volunteer at the Eagle Public Library, was a member in a lunch group, a book club, and, as a proud descendant of Mormon pioneers, in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
On Tuesday, July 14, with her children surrounding her bed, Mother bore us her finally testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Thursday morning, July 16, 2020, with many of her children in attendance, Mother quietly and peacefully passed away in her sleep.
She was preceded in death by both her parents, her siblings: Robert, June, Richard, and Bradley Jr. And her son-in-law Rulon Christensen.
She is survived by her younger sister Sharon White. Her children: Kathy Christensen, Galan (Nancy) Merrill, Kirk (Christie) Merrill, Richard Craycroft, Reid (Cari) Merrill, and Laraine Merrill (Chris Hoosick.) Twenty-seven Grandchildren and fifty-three Great Grandchildren.
Mother’s great desire was always to be the mother of many children. In this she clearly succeeded.
We, her children, will missed her steadfast example.
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