Ardith Jean (Mertes) Harris passed away peacefully in her home on December 28, 2022. She was born May 7, 1941, to Frederick Henry Mertes and Viola Arlene (Petri) Mertes in rural Adair, Iowa. She attended country schools at Grant #9 and #8 in Guthrie County, Iowa. She graduated from Adair High School with the Class of 1959. Ardith was baptized and confirmed at First Presbyterian Church in Adair. She found her faith home at Holy Cross Lutheran Church where she played organ and piano. She transferred to Zion Lutheran Church in Atlantic in the 1980s and has been a member there since.
Ardith and Lloyd Robert Harris met at the roller rink at the Little Red Barn in Adair, Iowa in 1955 and were married on December 20, 1958, at First Presbyterian Church. They are the parents of five children: Thomas Roy, Keri Lyn, Lori Leigh, Jody Anne, and Michelle Renee (Micki), and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren (stay tuned). While the children were young Ardith worked at West Iowa Telephone, first manually connecting calls and then managing the office when party lines became a thing of the past and the phone system became automated. She did not lose those skills and would not hesitate to cut into a call from the office if her kids tied up the home line too long; we never knew if she was listening, but we knew it was always possible. She also worked at Tober’s and played the organ at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Anita, Iowa. She was a long-time volunteer at Cass County Hospital with her mother Viola, working Sunday nights in the gift shop. After Lloyd’s death, she enrolled at Iowa Western Community College and earned her degree in Business Administration. Once all the children were grown, Ardith worked in many places including WesTel Systems, Arizona State University, Greyhound, Iowa Title, American Abstract & Title, Contract Land Staff, and Next Era Energy. As she was ready and able to retire, she did an about-face and accepted her dream job as a Right of Way Title Agent in Oil & Gas Pipelines and Wind Transmission industries, traveling the US. Like her father, before her, she loved to work! She retired in 2019 but continued to field job offers until 2022.
When she was not working, she was watching, first her kids in their many endeavors from Speech & Debate to music and sports, then her grandchildren and currently her great-grandchildren. She was an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs and loved watching college basketball and football, converting from a fan of one not-to-be-mentioned university to the Iowa State Cyclones after four of the five children attended. She was not a casual fan but could talk the talk as well as anyone and could hold her own in almost any sports conversation until her final days.
Ardith was a talented and natural musician who played the piano, organ, and French horn. She could pick up and play any instrument her children brought home. She had the most beautiful hands and her children remember watching them float across the keys watching for the crooked pinkie we all love. She enjoyed listening to contemporary Christian music and hymns, often singing along revealing the one musical gift she did not have: she could not sing in tune.
Ardith was passionate about her Schnauzers from the moment Tom brought Tina home. Over the years her companions included Tina, Tucker, Molly, and Missy. They gave her great joy and were the most faithful friends.
Ardith is survived by her daughters and their husbands: Lori & Ryan Glissmann, Jody & Kevin Meyer, and Micki & Heath Hartwig; son-in-law, TJ Hicks. Her favorite people called her Nana: John & Tiphani Glissmann and their children Parker, Hayden, Connor, Bennett, & Brailey; Robert Glissmann & Cassie Herrig and their children Rylan, Kirra, Calum, & Colbie Jude; Meghan & Clayton Dorsey and their children Ashten & Reid; Graydon Hicks and his children Emma & Natalie, Kaitlin & Nick Hodges and their children Sophia, Karver Thomas, & Ryker, Kylie Hicks and her son Liam Thomas, Jordanne Meyer and her children Amaya & Ruger, Shelby Hartwig & Kobe Smith, Bailey Hartwig, and Nicole Popp and her children Rylan, Kirra & Nora. It’s a lot! She is survived by her baby brother Dean Mertes, her brother Chuck Mertes and his wife Suzan, one sister Carol Shaw, and her brother John Mertes. She is survived by many nieces and nephews but holding a special place in her life were Cathy & Frank Bartunek, Terry Gene Campbell, and Bill & Marriann Harris. She is also survived by her uncle Verle A. Petri and her brother-in-law Herbert Cooley. She leaves behind her precious pup Missy.
Ardith was preceded in death by her husband, Lloyd, her son Sergeant Major Thomas R. Harris, her daughter Keri Hicks, grandson Kegan Leroy Meyer, and great grandson Luka James Hodges, and Rachel Glissmann, mother of Parker, Hayden, and Connor. Also preceding her in death were her sister Lois Mertes, her parents Frederick and Viola Mertes, her parents-in-law Earl and Elma Harris.
Ardith Jean Harris will be laid to rest beside her husband, Lloyd, and with her beloved dogs Tina, Tucker, and Molly.
Funeral service will take place at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, January 5, 2023, at Zion Lutheran Church in Atlantic, IA with Rev. Kyle McBee officiating. A visitation will take place one hour prior to the funeral at the church. A luncheon will be held immediately following the funeral in the reception hall of the Zion Lutheran Church.
Private interment will be held at Massena Cemetery just north of Massena, IA.
Memorials may be directed to the Harris Family in memory of Ardith. They will be designated to many of her favorite local charities and organizations and may be mailed to the Schmidt Family Funeral Home P.O. Box 523, Atlantic, IA 50022. Condolences may be left at www. schmidtfamilyfh.com.
Funeral arrangements are handled with the Schmidt Family Funeral Home of Anita, IA.