Merilee Houser Jones died unexpectedly after a brief illness in St. George, UT, on Thursday, August 9, 2018. She was born in St. George, UT, on July 10, 1962, the daughter of Gary and Virginia Houser. She grew up in St. George and Orem, UT. Her family returned to St. George upon the sudden death of her father on her 14th birthday. She moved to Cedar City, UT, at 16 when her mother remarried. She spent the rest of her life in Cedar City, but always considered herself a St. George girl.
She married Zane Thomas Jones in Cedar City on March 21, 1981; they were sealed in the St. George Temple on June 5, 1983. Merilee took great joy in her three daughters – Natasha, Chelsea, and Jamie. Regardless of circumstances, she always ensured that they were prioritized and always knew how much she loved them.
Merilee will be most remembered for her warmth, friendliness, and humor. People loved her because she loved them.
She attended Dixie and Cedar High Schools and was never shy about telling people she earned her diploma through the adult program. After becoming a wife and mother, she went to college while working and raising a family. She majored in Elementary Education, and her minor in Spanish was the start of her enduring love of the language and Hispanic culture. Earning her Bachelors degree in two years was something she took great pride in. She continued her education and was close to completing her Master’s degree at Southern Utah University.
Much of her life was devoted to teaching. She taught for the Iron County School District for 25 years. She was constantly looking for new things for her classroom and telling people about her students who were “so dang darling.” The children closest to her heart were her own grandchildren.
Merilee loved baseball, especially the Yankees. She and Zane made a tradition of attending spring training in Arizona. She spent her summers on the mountain and volunteering at Utah Summer Games, and could always be counted on to have Chapstick and gum wherever she went.
She was a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and most recently served as the Relief Society President at the Iron County Correctional Facility, a calling that she adored. She had a deep and abiding testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Merilee’s capacity to love so wholly and completely is one of the greatest gifts she leaves as her legacy. Because she loved so much, her loss is far-reaching and deeply felt.
She is survived by Zane, her daughters, Natasha (Jeffery) Dansie of Nephi, UT, Chelsea (Adam) Crosby of Columbia, SC, and Jamie (Rian) Ragle of Cedar City, UT, eight grandchildren, parents Thomas “Tink” and Virginia Holyoak, three sisters, and four brothers.
A viewing was held Friday, August 17, 2018, at the Canyon View Stake Center Cedar City, UT from 6 – 8 p.m. and Saturday, August 18, 2018, from 9 – 10:30 a.m. The funeral followed at the same location from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. She was interred at the Cedar City Cemetery under the direction of Southern Utah Mortuary. Online condolences can be sent at www.sumortuary.com.
Merilee hated getting flowers. Memorial contributions can be made to an account in her name at State Bank of Southern Utah.