BATH — Ruth Alyssia Merrill, 7, died of unknown causes while sleeping at home on Feb. 6.
Born in Uganda on April 17, 2003, she lived at a children’s home, Welcome Home Ministries Africa, until being diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 1.
With the help of the orphanage director, Mandy Sydo, and volunteers Tammy Cutchen and Tracey Peck-Moad, both of Brunswick, she was sent to Maine for physical therapy and hosted in the home of Allen and Theresa Jackson of Topsham.
In October 2004 she joined the Bath home of Dana and Meadow Merrill and their children, and was eventually adopted by the Merrill family and became a U.S. citizen on Feb. 14, 2006.
Ruth, who had multiple disabilities, received support services from the Bath-Brunswick Child Development Center, and the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
After attending the Morrison Developmental Center of Scarborough, she transferred to the Dike-Newell Elementary School in Bath this past September, where she was thrilled to ride the bus and attend first grade with friends.
She relied on her red wheelchair, communicated with her pink computer, and was able to hear after receiving a cochlear implant. She learned to understand spoken English and loved when people read to her. An eager learner, she was proud of learning to read and write, overcoming all medical expectations.
Despite her many physical limitations, she shared her joy and quirky sense of humor with everyone around her. She was cared for and loved by all who knew her, including her dear friend and personal support specialist, Christina Dumont of Topsham.
Her family was grateful for the time they shared with her, and for the support of the many bus drivers, teachers, therapists, doctors, and administrators who made Ruth’s life so rich and rewarding.
She will be deeply mourned by her parents, Dana Leslie and Meadow Rue (Lincoln) Merrill of Bath; her brothers, Judah Eli, Gabriel Hamilton, and Asher Livingstone Merrill, and sister Lydia Josephine Merrill; grandparents Roger and Patricia Merrill of Jefferson; grandmother Lucy Lincoln of Willimantic, Conn.; great-grandmothers Beatrice Rhuda of South Portland and Josephine Merrill of Richmond; and extended family.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 12 at the family’s church, Elim Community Church, 1184 Washington St., Bath. An interpreter for the deaf will be available.
Memorial donations can be made to Welcome Home Ministries Africa, P.O. Box 9771, Brea, CA 92822.
Condolences can be shared with the family online at desmondfuneralhomes.com.