Merreta M. Eldred passed from this life Oct. 9, 2008, after a sudden stroke.

Born March 29, 1941, in Carthage, Mo., and known by all as “Rita,” she grew up in Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Her father, Ralph, mother Jessie McCorkle Kersey and siblings Robert, Erma, James and Joyce completed a loving family.

She lived her adult life in New Mexico and Texas and spent the last 33 years with her soul mate and best friend William “Wild Bill” Eldred. She collected many things, such as frogs and angels, but her largest collection was that of friends and chosen family. Rita loved children and proudly served on the board of the regional Head Start Program. She will continue to help people through the donation of her body to UT Southwestern Medical School for research purposes. Her enthusiastic spirit, brilliant smile and embracing arms will be missed by many.

She is survived by her husband, William Eldred, of Brownwood, Texas; daughter, Sandy Wright Baker and husband, Jeff, of Arlington, Texas; son, James Woodward and wife, Mendee, of Bryan, Texas; son, Christopher Woodward and wife, Stephanie, of Heath, Texas; sister, Erma Hansen and husband, Ronnie, of Blair, Neb.; brother, James Kersey and wife, Pam, of Boulder Creek, Calif.; sister, Joyce Kersey, of San Antonio, Texas; nine grandchildren, Jessica Baldwin, Jennifer Caswell Foster, William Caswell, Justin Jones, Jadie Woodward, Sydnee Wood-ward, Carlee Woodward, Cade Woodward, Colton Woodward, Dylan Potts, Blake Hudgins, and Ryan Hudgins; three great-grandchildren, Drake Caswell, Joshua Caswell and Journi Foster; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

A celebration of Rita’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008, at Hi-way Auto, 2805 Highway 279, Brownwood, Texas. Bill and Rita met at a salvage yard and will say their goodbyes in the same fashion.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the UT Southwestern Transplant Services Center, 5601 Southwestern Medical Ave., Dallas, TX 75235, or the charity of your choice.