Vale Merle McArdell

Merle McArdell born 12th June 1917 in Derby TAS. She was the eighth of 12 children. Her parents were Patrick & Maude McArdell. Father was a tin miner. She died 4 months short of her 100th birthday.

She attended state primary school in Derby. She won a bursary to attend secondary school in Scottsdale. Left when she was 14. Not sure what she did for a few years but we know she taught at the Derby primary school for a while because Frances, her sister, recalls being taught by Merle.

Merle moved to Melbourne when she was about 18 and lived in a boarding house in Union Street Windsor. She started working at the Melbourne telephone exchange as a telephonist and progressed to head telephonist (Supervisor Grade 3). Stayed there until she retired at 60 years of age in 1977. She was later joined in Windsor by her sisters Joan and Frances. Frances also worked at the telephone exchange and Joan in the Post Office. They later moved to Lewisham Road in Windsor. They then moved to South Yarra. While living there, Merle became a cub leader. Around 1960, she bought a house in Wilson St Glen Waverley. In 2003, she moved to a unit at Oaktree Village Retirement Home not far from her house. Then in 2009 she moved to Waverley Valley Aged Care. Until about 2014 she was still active and talkative. She was visited there by many family members.

Merle had a romantic interest in the early days. His name was Edward McCarthy (Ted) and he appears on a few old photos. Ted served in the Second World War. On return he had changed and the romantic interest did not continue. Merle never married and had no children.

Merle devoted her life to helping people she did not know and family both financially and in other ways.

She donated money to:

She did volunteer work:

Many family members and friends lived with her at various times. This included Janice, Merle Green, who was a long time friend, and Patrick. She loved taking her nephews and nieces out for the day to the city, the pictures and plays.

Merle had many friends over the years from the telephonist days and from the local church. Ann attempted to contact a few but most had passed away. Pauline Corbet was one long time friend who Ann managed to contact.

We can only remember Merle having one car which was green. When she was about 80 she handed in her licence.

Merle was very organised. She had a funeral plan which covered all her expenses, a plot at Springvale, a will (which we had trouble locating), had organised the wording of her death notice and most of her photos had names written on the back.

Merle enjoyed a flutter on the horses as did her sister Alice. When she worked at the telephone exchange it is rumoured she overheard many conversations between SP bookies and others involved in the racing industry.

A few funny stories about Merle.

Her sister Frances tells the story of when her and Merle were walking down Collins street in Melbourne when the elastic broke on Merles undies and they fell to the ground. She just stepped out of them and kept walking. Someone picked them up, followed her and handed them back to her.

I once walked into her room at the nursing home and she kept starring at me as I walked around and eventually said to me "I thought you were dead".

John Lawrence, Merles nephew, had great respect for Merle. During a period when he was a bikie, John dressed in the obligatory bikie gear and hung around with other bikies. One time John was hanging out with other bikies in the CBD when he felt a tap on his shoulder. In true bikie fashion he turned around with fist clenched. "Oh, hello Auntie Merle" he sheepishly said whilst the other bikies looked on in amazement. Very embarrassing for him.
One night after the funeral Ann & I were sitting in the lounge watching television with the back door open. A large gush of wind blew through the back door and we then heard a low rumbling noise in the kitchen. Upon investigation we discovered the kettle had turned itself on. This was a bit creepy. After mentioning this to some one else they said it was Merle telling us that everything is OK and to sit down and have a cup of tea.

Vale Merle. You were truly a wonderful person, you were dearly loved and will be greatly missed by your many nephews and nieces and all the people who knew you.

It was a privilege to have known you.

Compiled by Rick Coxhill