Merle was born Jan. 14, 1915, on the family farm in Meadow Township, northeast of Remsen, the third child of Felix and Pearl (Means) Treinen. The family moved to Marcus in 1918. He graduated from Marcus High School in 1932. One of his first jobs was working for Lovell Simons south of Marcus for "a dollar a day and room and board."
Merle returned to the Treinen family farm in 1935. He lived there for 69 years, farming with his wife Wilma. They moved to Remsen in 2004, and the Park Place Estates in 2007.
Merle was an avid gardener and arborist. As he planted a tree in his later years he said "I'm not planting this for me, I'm planting this for someone in the future to enjoy." He worked side by side with Wilma, growing tons of garden produce shared with family and friends. He was looking through seed catalogs in his last days, always looking forward to spring.
Merle served on the Marcus School Board, and was a past member of the Marcus Rotary Club. He was an advocate for children born with special needs and worked tirelessly for social change. He was active at the county and state levels for the Association of Retarded Children. He and Wilma also volunteered for many years at the Life Skills Training Center in Le Mars and at the Happy Siesta Nursing Home in Remsen.
In 2006 Merle and Wilma donated 13 acres of their Century Farm's pasture land to Plymouth County for a native prairie preserve. This pasture has never been plowed since purchased in 1881 by Merle's grandfather, Nicholas Treinen, the original settler.
Merle is survived by his wife of 68 years, Wilma (Raetz) Treinen of Le Mars, and his children Michael (Sara Jane) of Des Moines, Kathleen Lathrop (Don) Turk of Council Bluffs, Maren (Michael) Hayes of Sammamish, Wash., Ann (Scott) Goodmanson of Albert Lea, Minn., Lea (Mark) Nowak of Wells, Minn., Laurie (Pat) Stroud of Danville, Calif., Jean of Le Mars, and Joyce (Tom) Galvin of Holstein. He has 18 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are sisters Margaret Willems of Marcus, Mary Behning of Carmichael, Calif., and Helen Treinen of Santa Rosa, Calif., and brother Bernard (Mary) of Indianapolis, Ind.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Felix (died in infancy), Paul, and Hugh; sister Hildred Bailey, and son-in-law Ron Lathrop.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Holy Name Catholic Church in Marcus. The Rev. Eugene Murray will officiate. Burial will follow at the parish cemetery. Visitation will be today (Wednesday) at Holy Name Catholic Church beginning at 3 p.m. There will be a rosary service at 4 p.m. followed by a Scriptural prayer service at 7 p.m. There will also be one hour of visitation at the church prior to Mass on Thursday. The Earnest-Johnson Funeral Home of Marcus is handling arrangements.
Expressions of sympathy may be directed through www.mauerjohnsonfh.com
Memorials may be directed to Holy Name Catholic Church in Marcus, Life Skills Training Center in Le Mars or the Hospice of Siouxland.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Park Place Estates for their special kindness, support, and care during his illness.