Mereda Alice Dorricott Wishman Cleary passed on September 9th, in her 103rd year, after a brief illness. She was a longtime resident of Ledgeview Assisted Living in Cumberland Foreside, Maine.
Mereda was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 17, 1909, the fourth of seven children born to Mary Ralston Spotts and Charles William Dorricott, a Tool and Dye maker who invented the player piano. She had three brothers, Francis, Samuel (known as Gilbert), and Charles Jr. She also had three sisters, Edna, Lillian (known as Ruth), and Alice. She was very close to her siblings, especially her sisters, Ruth and Alice. She loved to go dancing and to the movies in her youth. She witnessed some great changes of the 20th century, such as when the city of Philadelphia began an initiative to switch all the private residences from gas lights to electric, and she recalled them with great humor and fondness. Her Mother ran a boarding house in Wildwood, NJ in the summers and Mereda spent many treasured times at the beach and on the boardwalk with family and friends.
She attended Woodland Baptist Church of Philadelphia for 74 years. A student of Mrs. Lilian Koehler's Sunday school class upon becoming a member she and some of her classmates became such good friends and steady members of the church that they continued in the work of their teacher into adulthood packing Christmas Baskets for the needy and contributing to the church and Baptist Institute. By selling homemade candies and hosting luncheons. She also became a Sunday school teacher at first teaching young boys and then young girls even directing them in their class plays. She would continue her work becoming a member of the Board of Deacons, the Dorcas Circle, and the Bazaar Committee. The church was her anchor through many trying times and became her family.
She married William (Bill) Leonard Wishman on Thanksgiving 1937. They had one son, William Ronald Wishman in September 1941. After a trolley crashed into his work truck, it was discovered that Bill had Multiple Sclerosis and in 1951 passed from complications. She remarried in 1957 to John (Bernie) Bernard Cleary and was with him till his passing in 1983.
Mereda worked as a secretary most notably for the Navy and the National Park Service, retiring in the late 60's when the office moved from Philadelphia to Washington D.C.. She received much recognition for her work over the years even receiving the Department of the Interior's Meritorious Service Award in 1970. After retirement, Mereda cared for her granddaughter, Carina, even volunteering at her school, William B. Evans Elementary and hosting a “Teacher's Tea” for all the teachers who were part of her granddaughter's life. The tea was a tradition she carried on long after her granddaughter left elementary and the state.
In 1995, at 86 years of age, she chose to be closer to her son and granddaughter and moved to South Portland, Maine. She became a member of the Immanuel Baptist Church and resumed her volunteer activities joining the Women's Federation. She enjoyed writing letters to friends, crossword puzzles, playing with her great grandchildren, and her afternoon tea, which she swore to be the reason for her longevity. She shared her home with various family members until 2002 when she moved to Ledgeview.
She is predeceased by her brothers, sisters Edna and Ruth, her husbands, Bill and Bernie and most painfully by her son, Ron. She is survived by her daughter-in-law Andie Wishman of Gray, her daughter-in-law Carol Wishman of Brunswick, her granddaughter, Carina Wishman Freedner and grandson-in-law, Jonathan Wishman Freedner, her great-grandchildren, Maxwell and Laurel (Ellie) Wishman Freedner all of Brunswick, her sister, Alice Cameron of Florida and many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews and great great nieces and nephews!
A graveside service will be held on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, PA.
Arrangements are under the care of Advantage Funeral & Cremation Services, 981 Forest Ave. Portland, ME. Please visit www.advantageportland.com to sign Mereda’s guestbook.