Merle T. Sternberg, 91, of Fayette, died Friday, February 1, 2013, at Palmer Lutheran Health Center in West Union.
Memorial services will be held 10:30 a.m. Thursday, February 7, 2013, at the United Methodist Church in Fayette, Iowa with Rev Jason Princer and Rev. Tom Biatek officiating. Inurnment will be at Grandview Cemetery in Fayette. Friends may call for one hour preceding services at the church on Thursday. Becker-Milnes Funeral Home in Fayette is in charge of arrangements.
Merle Maxine Thompson Sternberg was born November 19, 1921, to Ada Beryl Euphrasia Chittenden and Malry Steward Thompson. Mr. Thompson was deceased eight months prior to Merle’s birth probably from injuries inflicted during World War II while serving on an ammunition train in France. Merle lived with and was cared for by her mother and her maternal grandfather, Sheldon Chittenden, both of Fayette.
Merle graduated from Fayette Consolidated High School in 1939 and from Upper Iowa University in 1943, with a B.A. degree after having failed to persuade her mother to agree to a year off to explore an interest in writing fiction. An early rejection soon settled the matter. Teaching for one semester in a very small town’s (Joice, Iowa) high school proved to be stimulating and as unsuited to her as she expected, so she eagerly accepted recruitment to U.S. Army Intelligence and a train ticket to Washington, D.C. About a year later, she accepted a transfer to The American National Red Cross, Pacific Ocean Area, and found herself in the Locator Office in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her assignment was “to find men” that is to connect service personnel to other service personnel at the request of them to establish contact for social, not military, reasons.
After the end of World War II and back in the United States, she explored possibilities for graduate education and funding for same. Meanwhile, having aggravated a long standing spinal injury from polio, she withdrew for a year the application already accepted by the University of Chicago Graduate School of Social Service Administration. In that year an office position with the Women’s American Baptist Society Foreign Mission Society was added to their New York Office, which she accepted.
She was united in marriage with David Sternberg on September 9, 1961. Mr. Sternberg’s death occurred December 21, 1995, and Merle returned to Fayette shortly thereafter. She was an active member of the United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women and held leadership positions in both. She was also a supporter and benefactor of several other community organizations.
She is survived by cousins and a host of friends.