Gail Lee photograph
Gail Lee

Luetta Gail (Merckling) Lee, age 92, daughter of Wayne Merckling and Sylvia Elizabeth Anna (Walker) Merckling, was born on Feb. 28, 1930, in Isadora, Mo.  She passed away peacefully at her home in Raymondville, Mo., on Jan. 17, 2023.  Gail always remarked that she was born in the smallest county in Missouri and would die in the largest county in Missouri.

Gail is preceded in death by her father, Wayne Merckling of Raymondville, Mo.; her mother, Sylvia Elizabeth Anna (Walker) Merckling of Raymondville, Mo.; two sons, Jim Lee of Raymondville, Mo., and Darrell Lee of Raymondville, Mo.; two sisters, Bonnie Burch of Houston, Mo., and Bettie Jones of Bucyrus, Mo.; two brothers, Norman Merckling of Houston, Mo., and Doyle Merckling of Houston, Mo.,; two sons-in-law, George Heath of Houston, Mo., and Dennis French of Raymondville, Mo.; one granddaughter, Carrie Alicia (Lee) Goforth of Licking, Mo.; one grandson, Ian Edward Heath of Nixa, Mo., and one great-grandson, Aedon Thane Heath of Nixa, Mo.

Gail is survived by her husband, James William Lee of their home in Raymondville, Mo.; one son, Don Lee of Foristell, Mo.; four daughters, Becky Heath of Houston, Mo., and companion, Dennis Brown of Raymondville, Mo.,  Beth Ann Cooper and Jackie Ray Cooper of Raymondville, Mo., Kathy French of Raymondville, Mo., and Shirley Mullen and Dewayne Mullen of Mountain Grove, Mo.; one sister, Judy York of Houston, Mo.; two brothers, Dorman Merckling and Eddie Merckling, both of Raymondville, Mo.; two daughters-in-law, Delaina Lee of Raymondville, Mo., and Michaelle Lee of Raymondville, Mo.; surviving grandchildren, Lonnie Lee of Bucyrus, Mo., Darrell Lee of Summersville, Mo., Alison Wilcox of Gilbert, Iowa, Brynt Cooper of Strafford, Mo., Jayme Roeber of Clever, Mo., Annie Wells of Houston, Mo., Madalynn Lee of Champagne, Ill., Josh Lee of Houston, Mo., Nick French of Raymondville, Mo., Coleman Lee of Columbia, Mo., Denim Lee of Houston, Mo.; and honorary grandson, Joe Bressie of Raymondville, Mo.; along with numerous great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, all of whom she loved very much.

Shortly after Gail was born, her parents moved their family and what belongings they could pack to Raymondville where they made their home in that community.  Gail attended grade school in a one room schoolhouse where she would ultimately meet her future husband, James.  Gail always joked that they didn’t like each other very well at all.  Apparently, that changed at some point.  According to Gail, James sat behind her in class and dipped the ends of her braids in the ink bottle then tapped her on the shoulder, so that when she spun her head around ink went everywhere.  She went on to attend Houston High School where she graduated in 1948 with honors.

On Jan. 8, 1948, Gail married James William Lee in Salem, Mo., and through their marriage seven children were born:  Jim, Becky, Beth Ann, Donnie, Kathy, Darrell and Shirley. 

Gail was raised in a Christian home and received Christ as her Savior as a teenager at Friendship Church in Raymondville, Mo., at a revival by Brother Rado Wilson. A short time after the revival, she was baptized by Brother Rado Wilson. She spent the rest of her life faithfully serving the Lord and attending church services at Wildwood House of Prayer in Raymondville, Mo.  She actively taught Sunday School and always looked forward to planning Bible School and Christmas plays at the church.  She loved singing in the choir and always picked the best hymns to sing.  On one of the annual mom/daughter trips to Silver Dollar City in Branson, she insisted on singing church hymns in the old church building there.  It wasn’t unusual to walk up to the front door of her home and hear her singing.

Gail was a member of Mary S Chapter 126 Order of the Eastern Star and always enjoyed participating in their activities and events and being a part of such an important organization.

Gail worked for Raymondville R-7 School District for 33 years.  Most of those years as a school bus driver.  She loved being around all of the children and watching them grow.  She enjoyed driving the bus to the ball games and all kinds of field trips, especially science and historical field trips.  She was involved in Stream Team which gave her the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with young kids and helping them learn about nature.  She retired from driving the school bus in 2010.

Gail was always happy to volunteer to be “room mother” for her kids when they were young.  All of the students looked forward to her cookies, brownies, cupcakes, fudge and whatever other snacks she would bring.  She always had so much fun hosting big birthday parties and sleepovers.  Well, we think she did.  You could for sure count on her to be the biggest cheerleader for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews in sports events, demolition derbies and Geezer Bowls.

She enjoyed staying involved in the Friendship Community and was always ready for chili suppers, hayrides and visiting with family and friends.  She remained a board member of the Friendship Cemetery and was caretaker and grounds keeper.  She regularly assisted funeral homes and families with cemetery plots. 

Gail loved sewing and was always glad to sew on a patch on blue jeans, sometimes there wasn’t much to sew together.  She would sew all kinds of clothes, wedding dresses and Halloween costumes.  She loved to be in the middle of anything going on.  She spent summers canning vegetables from her garden, but her happy place was always outside.  Gail and her husband, James, were notorious for raising a large garden.  She loved working in it and watching it grow.  She loved working in her flower beds and every year had the prettiest roses.  She spent most of her healthy years working with James raising cows, chickens, her donkey and whatever else she could sneak home.  Always laughing so hard about that dern donkey nagging her for feed again.  She was never afraid of hard work, insisting on going to the pond in the dead of winter to break the ice.  This earned her a most unusual Christmas present from her grandson Nick.  Her very own brand-new chopping ax.  She was thrilled!  She loved picking blackberries to put in the freezer for blackberry pies, all the while praying for the peach tree to produce enough peaches to freeze.  She enjoyed watching for deer and turkey in the field, feeding the birds, especially hummingbirds and on one occasion stopped to snap a picture of a rogue squirrel on the porch at her front door. She also possessed an uncanny ability to attract copperheads, resulting in two separate snake bites. 

She loved attending the Raymondville Picnic every year.  It was such a great time for her to visit with everyone and catch up on what was going on.  She loved to hear the singing and was an avid ferris wheel rider.  Even convincing James to ride it with her when they were in their 80s.  She loved swimming anywhere, especially Cedar Grove.  She was always ready to jump in the canoe or on the back of a motorcycle, on a 4-wheeler, golf cart or side by side, but she was just as happy sitting on the front porch listening to a Cardinals baseball game. 

Gail wholeheartedly loved her family and loved for Sunday to come around.  This was church day and Sunday dinner at their house.  She would get up very early Sunday morning to work up her famous light bread and make into rolls so that they would be ready to put in the oven when she got back from church.  They would always be sitting on her potato bin wrapped in towels, hot when everybody got there.  She never complained when everybody broke into the rolls and butter before dinner was even ready.  Anyone that has ever had the pleasure of tasting her light bread would agree and tell you that those actually were the “main course.” These are the things that made her happy and brought that precious, infectious smile to her face.

Gail was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister and friend.  She loved God and was always happy to listen when you needed advice or a shoulder to cry on, careful not to say I told you so but you knew that was what she was thinking.  She was always just as happy to encourage and help you celebrate life’s happy moments.  Anyone that visited with her for any amount of time could tell you that the conversation would always turn to God and how much she loved the Lord and what he has done for her and her family. 

Gail loved life and lived every day to the fullest.  At the end of the day she would always say, “It’s been a good day.”  She will be extremely missed by all of us that knew and loved her.

A visitation for Gail is 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at Wildwood House of Prayer in Raymondville.  A funeral service follows at 1 p.m. with Pastor Paul Murray officiating.  Interment followed at Friendship Cemetery.  Pallbearers are Brynt Cooper, Lonnie Dale, Darrell J. Lee, Coleman Lee, Joshua Lee, Denim Lee and Nickolas Lee.  Arrangements entrusted to Evans Funeral Home.  Online condolences may be left at


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