July 5, 1929 — Aug. 1, 2011

Merlyn Joyce Sumpter, 82, was carried into the arms of Jesus, who she loved her whole life, on Monday after a brief illness, surrounded by her loving husband, three sons and close friends.

Merlyn was born in Great Bend, Kan., to Victor D. Johnson (the leading taxidermist of the Midwest) and Gladys Brown Johnson (the “Beauty of Central Kansas”).

Merlyn grew up with three sisters, Dorothy Pharris, Glennis Gilmore and Lois Lemke, and younger brother Victor Dale Johnson enjoying their large extended family and a home filled with music and art.

Singing, acting and poetry followed Merlyn throughout her life with church choirs and her part in a women’s trio with her great friends Gracie Fiannaca and Barbara Holms in Reno, Nev.

Merlyn met the love of her life at the Great Bend roller skating rink. She married Dearl “Rusty” Sumpter on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1950, in a gown that was again displayed at their 50th anniversary renewal ceremony in 2000 in Albany. This year marked 62 loving years of Rusty and his “Sweetheart” together.

Merlyn and Rusty’s life has been filled with many friends across the country during many extended trips through the United States and Europe with Rusty’s work and travels.

Merlyn’s love of the Lord was seconded only by her love of family. Rusty and Merlyn’s life was enhanced by three children: local attorney Rodney E. Sumpter; Chris A. Sumpter (with wife Susan and children Maria and Jacob) of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; and Anthony Todd Sumpter (with wife Cally and children Talon, Meadow and Kanyon) of Thornton, Colo.

Moving from the plains of Kansas in 1962, the Sumpters made their home at Lake Tahoe, subsequently moving to Reno and for the last 34 years in Albany.

In January 2011 the Sumpters decided to return to Reno and moved into their new home in April.

Merlyn enjoyed her return to Reno and had been surrounded by loving friends and family. She held court for the last time at Sugar Pine Point, Lake Tahoe, on July 2 at the Tahoe Yacht Club picnic.

Thursday, July 28, found her enjoying a day with Rusty and playing the piano when she was called home to the Lord.

The family wishes to thank the wonderful loving doctors, nurses and staff of the Renown Cardiac Intensive Care unit for their exceptional care and patience during this difficult time.

Public viewing will be from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Walton’s Sierra Chapel, 875 W. Second St., Reno, with a remembrance/wake from 7 to 8 p.m. A service will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at Sierra Bible Church, 3195 Everett Drive, Reno, followed by entombment at Mountain Mausoleum.

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