Our beloved mother, Merilyn Davis Atkinson, passed away peacefully at Vista del Monte Retirement Community in Santa Barbara, California, on Monday, June 3, at the age of 93.
Encouraged by a cousin who thought Merilyn “had what it took” for higher education, in 1940 Merilyn entered Santa Barbara State Teachers College (later UC Santa Barbara). She loved college life, thriving as an art student, Alpha Theta Chi sorority sister, and social chairwoman of the Student Body. She was recognized for her college achievements in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges. In 1942, she married Will Reineck, and enjoyed a happy life raising their three children in the Pacific Palisades. With their children grown, Merilyn and Will parted.
Merilyn then rekindled a romance with her childhood sweetheart, Herbert Atkinson. They were married in 1973 and shared 17 wonderful years at their lovely home in Palos Verdes. Together with her pal, Beenie Speight, Merilyn ran a successful business enterprise, Pleasure Club Tours, organizing delightful adventures throughout California. Tragically, Herbie passed away in 1989 after a yearlong battle with cancer.
Merilyn moved back to Santa Barbara with her youngest daughter, Janet, and was present at the birth of grandson Jeremy in 1990. She helped raise Jeremy, and they were very close throughout her life. She shared her golden years in Santa Barbara with Hal Dunham. They had fun times together — traveling, dancing and playing bridge.
Merilyn’s No. 1 passion was swing dancing. She never missed a chance to cut the rug to the sounds of Benny Goodman, Glen Miller or Artie Shaw. Her other love was Dodger baseball. One of the biggest thrills of her life was receiving a personal call from Dodgers announcer Vin Scully on her 90th birthday.
Merilyn loved people, and was cherished by many who enjoyed her happy, optimistic outlook. She left this world as she lived her life, with a light touch, surrounded by family and friends. She is survived by son Jack Reineck and wife Gay, daughters Judy Rowe and Janet Reineck; grandchildren Adam, Hannah and Jeremy; her step-children, John Atkinson and wife Sally, Sharon Sheehan and husband Dennis; and six step-grandchildren.
Arrangements are by McDermott Crockett & Associates.