Audrey Joan Merrill left us Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, at her current home in the Memory Villa at Bishop Place, Pullman.

Her beautiful smile, kindness and spunk will be missed by everyone who knew her. We would like to thank all the caregivers at Bishop Place and Regency Senior Living for the wonderful care she received over the last years of her life.

She was born March 31, 1938, to Jones McCown and Audrey (Martin) McCown in Potlatch. She was raised on the family farm beside Freeze Cemetery. She attended school at Potlatch, where she made many lifelong friends.

She married W. Max Merrill at Coeur d’Alene on June 18, 1955. They made their home outside Potlatch until 1967, when they moved to Garfield. They made their home in Garfield for 44 years.

Joan worked several part-time jobs early in their marriage while raising her children. She became a bus driver for Garfield School in the early 1970s and enjoyed driving the everyday routes and to many sporting events until 1979. She was loved by the kids on her route but known for having a firm way of handling chaos on her bus. She worked for two summers for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), taking care of the rest area outside Steptoe, Wash., before she was hired on to the road crew full time. She was very proud to have been the first female to work on the WSDOT road crews in eastern Washington, paving the way for hardworking women to follow. She later moved to a position in the office where she could work 8-to-5 hours without dealing with the extreme weather. She retired from WSDOT in 2000.

She loved cooking big meals, knitting, sewing, quilting and caring for others. Many grandkids have loved the blankets that she made for them, picture sweaters, and the homemade rolls and cinnamon rolls she was famous for making. You never left her house without being full and taking leftovers if you were fast enough to get them. She loved her grandchildren and kids in general.

She is survived by her husband of 65 years, W. Max Merrill; three sons, Cactus Merrill, of Harper, Ore., Jack Merrill (Tena), of Potlatch, and Joe Merrill (Angela), of Palouse; one favorite daughter, Treva Beebe (Pete), of Potlatch; one favorite sister, Holly Miles, of Cheney; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

A service will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Freeze Cemetery Church for family and friends who feel comfortable attending.

A memorial picnic will be held July 4, 2021 at Merrill’s pond — a tradition Joan loved to host dating back more than 40 years. There was always enough food and fun where family, friends and soon-to-be friends were always welcome.

Memorial in Joan’s name can be made to the Freeze Cemetery Fund, c/o Crete Davis, 1225 Duffield Flat Road, Potlatch, ID 83855.

Kramer Funeral Home of Palouse is caring for the family. Online condolences may be left at

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