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Merriam I. Streelman

Merriam went to sleep on August 23, 2019 in Carlsbad, California, with members of her family present.  Merriam was born February 15, 1933, to Herman and Florence Wiltjer of Grand Rapids, MI.  In 1951, Merriam graduated from Wyoming Lee High School and, on June 3, 1951, she married her long time “secret” boyfriend, Robert (Bob) Frank Streelman.  Two weeks later they moved to Ann Arbor so Bob could attend the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, where she earned her PHT (Putting Husband Through) degree.

While in high school, Merriam did secretarial work in her dad’s excavating office and later she used those skills in other work experiences.  While Bob attended the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, she and Bob had 2 children, Ric and Robin, and later on had 3 other children, Jeff, Steve and Karen.  Her main goal in her life was to serve her family and her husband, as a wife and a mother.  She was a tremendous success at both of these challenges.

Merriam had various work experiences such as a switch-board operator and receptionist at Butterworth Hospital, Grand Rapids Seventh-Day Adventist Junior Academy, substitute teacher and home economics teacher, and as a receptionist in her husband’s dental office.  She worked at the University of Michigan dental clinic as a clinical assistant and was employed at the University of Michigan Hospital as an accounts clerk.   She also worked at the Dexter Lock Company, Grand Rapids, MI, and was employed as a secretary to the principal of Lee High School, Wyoming, MI.

Merriam was involved with a number of organizations and associated work experiences which included Curriculum Review Committee at Wyoming Public Schools, TB Society volunteer and PTO President of Jackson Park Junior High School.  She coordinated and participated in three missionary trips to Haiti, and was the church head organist and pianist at Central Grand Rapids Seventh-Day Adventist Church.  She was part of Family Services, a Grand Rapids Junior Academy school board member, a volunteer coordinator at Butterworth Hospital, as well as an Administrative Secretary for Grand Rapids Ophthalmology Surgery Center.

Merriam made a significant contribution to her church through her service as the head organist and pianist for more than 40 years!

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made in the name of Merriam Streelman to the City of Wyoming Community Foundation, PO Box 9852, Wyoming, MI 49509.

She leaves behind five children to cherish her memory, Ric (Francesca) Streelman, Robin Layman, Jeff (Kari) Streelman, Steve (Janna) Streelman and Karen Streelman; nine grandchildren, Matthew, Jason, Kelli, Ryan, Andrea, Coryn, Riley, Jayden and Avalon; eight great-grandchildren, Jackson, Briella, Lydia, Ivy, Quinn, Kaiser, Khloe and Zoe.

Merriam was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Bob, after 65 years of marriage; brothers, Thomas Wiltjer of East Jordan, MI and James Wiltjer also of East Jordan, MI.

A celebration of Merriam’s life is planned for Friday, September 13, 2019.  Friends may visit with the family at the Matthysse-Kuiper-DeGraaf Chapel (Kentwood), 4646 Kalamazoo Ave. SE from 10 am to 11 am with services beginning at 11 am.  Burial ceremony to follow at Garfield Park Cemetery.


  1. We are so sorry for your loss. She will be greatly missed by many.

    - Tom and Sandra (Koepke)Hazlett
  2. Merriam trained me when she was an operator at Butterworth, she had the best notes for us to follow. I enjoyed working with her and she was always kind and helpful to our visitors.

    - Anne Watkins

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