Mervlyn Diana (Watkins) Krausnick, of Lincoln, died Tuesday, March 2 at the age of 76.
Merv (as she was known to her friends) was born May 23, 1944 in Raleigh, North Carolina to
Deal and Frances (Dunn) Watkins. As a girl she loved playing “Davey Crockett” in the woods with
her older brother Butch, and in high school drove a school bus for Raleigh Public Schools (a skill
that she would call upon later in life). She left Raleigh to attend college at Appalachian State
Teachers College (now Appalachian State University) in Boone, North Carolina, where she
earned a B.S. in Business Education.
After a year of teaching high school, Merv’s desire to further her education (but mostly to
indulge her sense of adventure) had her driving across the Great Plains to attend graduate
school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. On that drive she encountered her
first Midwestern thunderstorm rolling across the wheat fields of Kansas; it was a storm she never
forgot. In Colorado she met Kenneth, her future husband and father of her three children. As a
young couple Merv and Kenneth lived in Rapid City, South Dakota, where they witnessed the
flood of 1972. After a brief stay in McCook, Nebraska, Merv and her family settled in Imperial in
1973, where she spent the next 22 years.
A devoted mother and homemaker, Merv took great pride in keeping an immaculate home
for her family to enjoy. It was the rare speck of dust, furniture scratch, chip of paint, or water spot
that escaped her notice. As wife to a large animal veterinarian and mother to three active kids,
she elevated cleaning and the domestic arts to High Art; there was nary a stain they could
produce that she could not remove. It was one of many ways she expressed her deep love for
In her middle years, when she managed to find some free time, Merv enjoyed playing
cards, softball, bowling, and being ornery. Many happy hours were spent with her ‘Happy
Hookers’ bowling league friends, where despite her strange form she became a pretty decent
bowler, even winning a couple of ‘Mother-Son’ regional bowling tournaments with her son (once
the organizers realized ‘Merv’ wasn’t a man’s name).
Merv’s greatest joy was always her children, and one would be hard pressed to find a
more devoted mother. Unfailingly supportive (despite her exactingly high standards), Merv rarely
missed a game, concert, play, or other event in which her kids participated. The number of Girl
Scout cookie boxes distributed from her garage was legion. She especially enjoyed coaching and
supporting her daughters’ softball teams. When the team needed new uniforms and the city
wouldn’t supply them, Merv, with her dear friend Darla Cook, determined to raise the money
themselves, which they did. She loved that the team’s mascot was ‘the Rebels,’ because Merv
was always and ever a rebel at heart, and not a woman easily deterred.
She was also full of love and mischief. Her home became a place where her children’s
friends naturally gathered, because they felt welcome and free to be themselves. Easy to talk to
and lots of fun, Merv was a kind of surrogate mom for many kids; a source of support for those
navigating the sometimes difficult path to adulthood. There are also rumors that she may have
been involved in various schemes of good-natured (but slightly naughty) mischief carried out by
the young people who confided in her, but these rumors can be neither confirmed nor denied.
When she found herself with only one child left at home, Merv re-entered the workforce
and once again became a bus driver, now for Imperial Public Schools. She braved the sometimes
treacherous country roads because she so loved seeing and getting to know the kids on her
route. With a toughness that characterized her whole life, she took a second job working the
graveyard shift at the all-night T-Junction truck stop. It was a job she loved, not for the work, but
for the people she got to know and conversations she got to have. Many high school kids would
swing by T-Junction on the weekend to have a late night chat with Merv.
After her divorce in 1995, Merv left Imperial and moved to Lincoln, to be near her children
and to begin a new adventure. After going back to school for a short time, she landed a job with
the Nebraska Legislature as an Assistant Statute Technician in 1996, where she enjoyed
correcting people’s grammar for the next 15 years. When not working, Merv’s greatest pleasure
came from spending time with her grandchildren. She loved nothing more. She retired from the
State of Nebraska in 2011, when her worsening Multiple Sclerosis no longer allowed her to work.
Though over time her body failed her, she never lost the fierce independent spirit, toughness, and
stubborn streak that characterized her entire life. Nor did her inner rebel disappear, as displayed
when she staged an escape from her nursing home in her power wheelchair when nobody was
looking, because she wanted to go get coffee (though the sweet taste of freedom was her true
desire). She also never lost her heart for young people, becoming a beloved friend and
conversation partner to the nursing home staff that cared for her so well in her later years.
As we all are, Merv was a mixed bag of virtue and vice, of wisdom and folly, of strengths
and weaknesses. But she will be most remembered for her unflinching devotion to her family, for
her love for young people, for her sense of fun and mischief, for being able to “talk to a fencepost”
(as she put it), and for facing life’s challenges with strength, courage, and independence. She will
be greatly missed.
Mervlyn is survived by her daughters Teresa Gray of Lincoln, Dixie Robertson (Randy) of
Kansas City, son Kevin Krausnick (Dorene) of Lincoln, and nine grandchildren: Ashley and
Danielle Gray; Anna, Elizabeth, Rachel, and Nathan Robertson; and Audrey, Lewis, and Wesley
Krausnick. Mervlyn was preceded in death by her parents and brother. A private memorial
service will be held at a later date.
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