Cover photo for Tobye Merrill's Obituary
1957 Tobye 2020

Tobye Merrill

January 16, 1957 — March 21, 2020

Tobye Babbitt Merrill of Niles, Michigan . . . is no more . . . has kicked the bucket . . . is now a dead person.  She “shuffled off this mortal coil” (Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”) on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 3:05 p.m. at her home in Niles.  Her spirit was released from her roughly worn body, and is now exploring the universe.  She was surrounded by her beloved husband of thirty years, Dallas Merrill, her sister, Nicola Babbitt Ruetz and niece, Tya Wrenn, both of Charleston, South Carolina, and honorary nephew and niece Robert and Nicole Kellogg.

Tobye is preceded in death by her mother, Judith Babbitt Ruetz, her father, Milo Lawrence Ruetz, and by her tonsils.

In addition to her humans, she also leaves behind her Super Horse, Aribella’s Dream and her amazing dog, Smitters Merrill.

She loved the band U2, was an avid fan of the Denver Broncos, and was a Guardian Member of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).  She was a lifelong supporter of the Future Farmers of America, wearing the blue corduroy jacket in high school, and more recently offering her farm for the current FFA students to practice agricultural skills.

Tobye’s checkered education began at the Stanley Clark School in South Bend, Indiana.  She then graduated with honors from Niles High School in 1975.  There were a few years of partying at Colorado State University (Fort Collins), but she still maintained good grades in-between marathon games of Spades with her roommate and lifelong friend, Debbie Enstminger Wittig.

She eventually earned her Associates degree in Business with highest honors from Lake Michigan College (Benton Harbor, Michigan), and then commuted to Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo) and graduated cum laude with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration.  In addition to scholarships, she worked her way through school including employment at nursing homes, trailer factories, and even a flower farm in Florida.

Once armed with her degrees, Tobye began work on her MBA, and her career developing and managing professional development and continuing education classes and seminars.  She did this at WMU’s Fetzer Center and then at Indiana University South Bend for thirteen years.

Injuries suffered in a horrendous car accident eventually caused her early retirement in 2004.

She kept busy managing the family property, Dreaming Rock Farm, and – according to her family – managing them.  She also made jewelry using natural stones and offered manuscript editing and résumé writing services.

No viewing will be offered because she thought it to be a weird tradition.  Cremation will take place when the family gets around to it.

Everyone who remembers her is asked to celebrate in their own way; raising a glass of their favorite drink would be quite appropriate.  Sometime in the future, the family will invite relatives and friends to the farm to share memories and honor her life.

Instead of flowers, Tobye hoped that you would donate time, supplies, or cash to your local humane organization in her name.

Arrangements were made at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles.  Online condolences may be left at:

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Tobye Merrill, please visit our flower store.


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