Merrilee Holt Hanson passed away peacefully on September 20, 2023, after a long battle with dementia. Our hearts are broken to lose our beloved mother, sister, and grandmother. She was born on August 9, 1943, in St. George, UT. She was the oldest of three girls born to hard-working parents, Leo and Mona Holt, who gave her a wonderful childhood. Merrilee spent her adolescence swimming, acting, studying, collecting pine nuts, playing with her best friends, Peggy and Virginia, and working hard in her parents’ hotels. Merrilee also shared a special, life-long bond with her younger sister, Sharon James. In her adult years, she could often be found in a swimming pool or reading a good book in a comfortable chair when she wasn’t working or with her family. \n\nMerrilee was a brilliant teacher and school administrator. She spent the bulk of her career at Waterford School in Sandy, UT, where she was a founding faculty member. She trained countless students to love learning and helped the teachers she supervised become better at their trade. Merrilee also enjoyed teaching in her church’s Sunday School and Relief Society – she spent several years leading the Relief Society in her ward in South Jordan, UT. Many will remember her for her faith, honesty, intelligence, and passion for helping others. Others will remember her for her strong work ethic, organizational skills, and seemingly endless energy. Every project she touched was polished and well-executed.\n\nWhile many knew Merrilee because of her remarkable career in education, it was her family that brought her the most joy. Merrilee’s second marriage was to her “Sweetheart,” Paul Hanson. Together they loved entertaining friends, traveling, and spending time with their family. She and Paul often invited their grandchildren over for sleepovers, and they always served delicious breakfasts the following morning. Those breakfasts and the extravagant family parties are still fondly remembered and talked about. Even in her final and hardest days, Merrilee craved hearing stories about her grandchildren and their accomplishments. Nothing brought her greater joy and peace than her family. \n\nMerrilee gracefully battled dementia during the final ten years of her life. Every day during this heartbreaking period was a struggle, but she often found a way to inquire about family members and thank those who helped her. Fortunately, she was also able to maintain a bit of her sassy and frank style and even some humor until the very end. Dementia couldn’t take that from her! The family would like to thank her outstanding caregivers at Cedarwood at Sandy, nurse Jen at Renew Hospice, and the caring aides at Canyon Hospice. They are all truly remarkable people.\n\nMerrilee is preceded in death by her husband, Paul Hanson, parents Mona Fawcett Holt and Leo Overton Holt, along with her youngest sister, Vicki Harper. She is also predeceased by her first husband, Gary N. Leavitt, the father of their two daughters.\n\nMerrilee is survived by daughters: Lisa Leavitt (Sam Jensen), Kristi Watabe (Jeffrey); stepchildren: Ronald Hanson (Debbie), David Hanson (Mary), Phyllis Hamblin (Carl), Eric Hanson (Cathy); sister: Sharon James; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren whom she and Paul adored more than anything!\n\nWe will always treasure every single moment we had with you, Mom! Thanks for simply being the best. Rest in peace.\n\nFriends and family are invited to attend a viewing on Saturday, September 30 from 10:30 am until 11:30 am at Jenkins-Soffe Funeral Home, 1007 S Jordan Pkwy, South Jordan. Family and close friends will honor Merrilee at a private graveside service at the Lehi Cemetery, 1100 N 400 E, Lehi, following the viewing.\n\nIn lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association in Merrilee’s name, and then sit down in your most comfortable chair with a big bowl of popcorn while you dive into a really good book.