Jacqueline Louttit Merkel, 71, of Lexington, KY, passed away on December 25, 2020, in the presence of loved ones. Jackie was born in Chicago, IL, on September 12, 1949, to the late Philip C. Louttit, Jr., and Rose (Bayer) Louttit.
After graduating from Herbert Hoover High School, Jackie attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before transferring to the University of South Dakota where she graduated with a degree in Accounting. She went on to earn her CPA license and furthered her education with an MBA from the University of Akron (while working and raising four children). She exercised her knowledge as an accountant in various professional and volunteer roles throughout her career.
Jackie met Rev. James Merkel while he was in seminary through Luther League for youth members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America throughout Chicago. The couple married on October 11, 1969, and lived in various cities for Jim's calls to ministry including Tea, SD, Bowling Green, OH, Dayton, OH, Ashland, OH, before landing in Kentucky in 1999 where they split time between Lexington and Somerset. They remained true to their wedding vows through sickness and health through her passing.
Jackie was curious and loved to learn. She kept her mind sharp by exploring new places and enjoyed playing competitive Bridge. Jackie and Jim instilled a love for adventure in their four children through camping and hiking trips through the continental United States. As retirement approached, they grew fond of European cruises and enjoyed experiencing new cities and cultures along the Danube, Seine, and Rhine Rivers. They also sailed into Scandinavia and crossed the Arctic Circle to experience the midnight sun in the summer of 2018.
Jackie loved to gather in nature and organized multiple family trips to the Smoky Mountains National Park to explore God's creation. Spending time with her family and celebrating her children's personal and professional successes was one of her greatest joys.
In addition to her blood relatives, Jackie cultivated a very strong Bridge family. She was a member of the American Contract Bridge League and earned the status of Life Master in 1994. She went on to earn Sapphire Life Master status and enjoyed traveling throughout the country to play in tournaments. Her love of Bridge turned into a part-time vocation as she served as a local director in 2012 at the Lexington Bridge Club. She went on to serve as a Tournament Assistant and eventually Tournament Director beginning in 2016, which led her to direct regional tournaments throughout the greater Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee area. She also shared her love of the game as an instructor by teaching Bridge to newcomers to the game in Lexington.
She is survived by her husband Jim of 51 years, her brother David Louttit (Cheryl); brother-in-law John Merkel (Judy); her children Timothy Merkel (Melissa), Stephen Merkel (Anne), Jeremiah Merkel (Holly), and Moriah Sowders (Jeremy); and nine grandchildren, Abigail, Isabel, Eleanor, Christopher James, Thomasin, Lillian, Madeline, Virginia, and Philip; and her niece and nephews.
A celebration of life will be held as the pandemic subsides when it is safe to gather again in person and will be announced in the coming months.
To honor Jackie's life, her family requests that you share ways she touched your life on the Tribute Wall for Jackie. You may also make a donation in her memory to the National Park Foundation (www.nationalparks.org) or the ACBL Education Foundation (www.acbleducationfoundation.org).
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