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Carolyn passed away from pancreatic cancer leaving behind her loving husband, family and a Large Host of Friends. Carolyn was born in Pendleton, Oregon, and was adopted two weeks later by Dr and Mrs. Stewart Merrill, who lived in Wallowa, Oregon. Her brother, Robert, died when he was four years old from meningitis. After Robert passed away, Dean, Gene, and Kathy were added to the family. Her father owned medical clinics in Wallowa and Enterprise and treated patients at both the LaGrande and Enterprise hospitals. Since he spent too many miles evading the law on the highways, they moved to Boise when Carolyn was in the 3rd grade. She attended Boise Seventh-day Adventist schools from the 4th through 10th grades. She graduated from Gem State Academy in Caldwell, Idaho, and then attended Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington. While home from college for Christmas leave her sophomore year, she met Larry who was filling in for the owners of the gas station/boat shop next to her house. As she was riding her horse past the station, she saw that he just finished with a customer and she decided to say "hi". As she rode up behind him, he quickly turned around, and she asked him, "Do you have any antifreeze for my horse?" It was a pretty good pick-up line. It was until death do we part. Larry had been in the Navy and was ready to go to college. He chased her to Walla Walla University in 1962, and they were married in 1963, with Carolyn graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Secretarial Science the next year. She then worked for the Bonneville Power Administration in Walla Walla for three years until Larry graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1967. Tonja was born, and they moved to the Tri Cities, WA, where Larry took a position as an engineer with Battelle Northwest on the Hanford Atomic Energy site. Their second daughter, Tricia, was born in the Tri Cities.
Then Larry took a job with a California Company that manufactured control systems on large paper machines. This job took the family to Oregon, Oklahoma and California and then finally settled in Idaho where they raised their girls. The family enjoyed many years of traveling and showing horses. Once the girls left for college, Larry and Carolyn took up riding Harley Davidson motorcycles and traveled the USA as well as Canada and Australia.
When Carolyn took a scuba diving trip with Walla Walla College to Mexico her senior year in college, she needed a copy of her birth certificate to prove US citizenship. When she got her adoption birth certificate from the State of Oregon, she found out she was "Caroline" not "Carolyn." She also found out that she had two birth names on her original birth certificate - "Virginia" which was crossed out and renamed "Veronica." This gave her four names to choose from. She chose "Caroline" for her fun times.
Carolyn was a life-long active member of the Seventh-day Adventist church. She served in many positions at church, the Harley Davidson Ladies of Harley and on the Board of Directors for Crime Stoppers of Southwest Idaho.
Carolyn had a lifelong allergy to cats, but always wanted one. So, one day as she and her grandson, Tyler, went into a Winco store, a couple little girls had a box of kittens. On the way out, they picked one, a lynx point Siamese. She named him Thai, from the land those cats came from. On the way home, Carolyn was thinking "what have I done?" She began taking allergy shots so Thai could be in the house whenever she/he wanted.
Carolyn had a lifelong love of gardening. Last year she grew an 18 pound cantaloupe she which she entered at the Western Idaho Fair. It won Best of Show and Best of Melons. She had a big vegetable garden, along with grapes and fruit trees. She was proud of her Iris garden consisting of about 100 different colors and kinds, and her wish was to be able to see them bloom this year. Her wish was granted.
She enjoyed hosting corn roasts and roasting s'mores over the back yard fire. She also enjoyed planning and hosting various family and friend gatherings, and was most happy when the house and yard was full of friends and family. This year on Easter Sunday there were 41 fantastic family members in the Van Hees home, and they stayed late.
She is survived by her husband Larry, daughter Tonja Kromrei (Joel), daughter Tricia Henderson, grandson Nathan Henderson (Kaylie) and great grandson Caisyn Henderson, granddaughter Josie Henderson, grandson Tyler Henderson, brother Dean Merrill (Cheryl), brother Gene Merrill (Barbara), sister Kathy Merrill, sister Marlene McAllister (Rod), brother George Rohrich (Valerie), sister Linda Stevenson (James), brother Dean Rohrich (Sharon) and multiple nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her adoptive parents Dr. Stewart and Nina Merrill, brother Robert Stewart Merrill, blood father and mother George and Marie Rohrich, and brother Gerald Rohrich (Marcielle).
The family expresses a special thank you to Becky, Shelli, Amanda N., and Amanda B. with St. Lukes Hospice, Tonya and Kara with ProTouch Home Cleaners, and the many friends who have visited, sent flowers, food, cards and love.
Donations may be sent to 89.5 KTSY Christian Radio Station, 16115 South Montana Drive, Caldwell, ID 83607.
Her Celebration of life will take place at 4:00 pm on Saturday, August 6, at the Cloverdale Seventh-day Adventist church at 1115 N Cloverdale Road.