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Merrilee Ragsdale was a child of God, daughter, mother, wife, sister, aunt, grandmother, and great grandmother, long time Big Bear resident of 34 years and caregiver to all who needed her. She left this world suddenly February 10, 2023 at the age of 64.
She was born and raised in Fullerton, California on August 8, 1958 to parents Reinhardt and Patricia Radatz. She was the middle child with an older sister, Ronnalee, and younger brother, Darryl.
Merrilee moved to Big Bear with her daughter in 1989. She worked at the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce as the film industry coordinator for several years. She began framing pictures at The Photo Store and eventually opening her own scrapping business, Memories by Merrilee in The Village.
She is survived and missed by her loving husband Michael, daughter Leah, brother Darryl as well as many beloved grandchildren, great grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews, and dear friends.
Merrilee was predeceased by her father Reinhardt, mother Patricia, and sister Ronnalee.
From Merrilee's husband, Michael:
Merrilee loved her friends and family so much. She grew up in Big Bear with her Parents, Darryl, & Ronnalee. She returned to Big Bear with her daughter, Leah, to raise her and as she told me several times she always thought she would "Live and Die here in Big Bear".
She loved to Walk... Thru the trees, in the Sand, up over the rocks, to the top of the mountain, in the Snow, and even in the Rain. To one place, I know of, she found and carried over 200 small quartz rocks to the top of the mountain. I saw it as sort of a monument to all that see believed in. A year ago she could easily walk 2-4 miles a day. Wherever we were, with me or alone, she would Walk.
She loved Road Trips. Our honeymoon was a Thirty Day, Ten Thousand Mile Journey throughout the US. At The Mention Of a road trip she could be in the car with a snack meal packed and ready to go in Ten minutes.
She and I only took one smaller rolling case for both of us, wherever we traveled, no matter where we were going, and she always had it packed and ready to go. We both hated checking bags and agreed that if we didn't have what we needed we would buy it wherever we were.
Merrilee and I traveled together trying to experience as much of the world and its people as we could. We spent a month in Europe sleeping on trains and wherever the train stopped in the morning we got off. That night we got back on the train and wherever it was the next morning was our next day's adventure.
She was the quintessential planner. She and I would talk about the fact that if you can see the future in your mind, you have a better chance of making it happen. That being said, she, like myself, could be sometimes redirected at the drop of a hat. She had adopted my "the best trips are the ones you don't spend much time planning".
She truly enjoyed the commitment of two people working together to start and finish anything we chose to do.
This includes the last year we spent selling the home that we literally built side by side together over the last 13 years. We reduced all of the things that we had accumulated in our lives which easily fit both a rather large barn and house. We had reduced it all to what is stored today in a 10 x 10 foot storage space.
She was excited about what would be this next chapter in our lives which we had both decided to take. She didn't care any more than I did about which road or path we took from where we were each day, as long as we were doing it together. Which was how we did everything... Together She was Everything…
From her daughter, Leah:
My mother gave me the most amazing life filled with love, caring and adventure. Our life revolved around our treasured family traditions and celebrations in Orange County and then Big Bear. My mother instilled in me a sense of independence and never settling for anything which has helped me to have a fulfilling life. As a single mother she ensured I have never lacked for anything physically or emotionally. I will forever cherish the memories of our vacations together to Hawaii, Jamaica, Bali, New York, Las Vegas and Mexico so many times.
She was an amazing grandmother to my children Charley and Danny. She loved being a grandma making crafts, playing games, baking, doing puzzles, and traveling with us on many family vacations to Florida, The Great Smoky Mountains, and Santa Barbara more times than I can count. Every time Charley says “sugar” I will think of you. We will miss all the time and vacations we thought we still would have together. I love you mom.
A celebration of her life is scheduled for 11am on March 11, 2023 at the Elks Lodge, 40611 Village Dr, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315. If you would like to attend, please RSVP here so the family has an accurate guest count to make the appropriate arrangements. Flowers can be ordered from the Little Green House in Big Bear (800) 909-5352 for delivery to the Celebration of Life at the Elks Lodge on March 11th.