Dorothy Betty (Mertel) Pakan, 101, Valparaiso, IN, formerly of Highland, IN, went to be with her creator on May 16, 2023. She is survived by her daughters Dorothy A. Pakan, Susan (Gary) Brown and Sharon (Steve) Cholewa. Also surviving are grandson Christopher Brown and granddaughter Emily Brown. She was preceded in death by her parents Zuzanna (Cermak) Mertel and Michael Mertel; brothers Michael Mertel, John Mertel, Milan Mertel; sister Anna (Ted) Lesky; and husband Edward J. Pakan.
Mrs. Pakan was born August 8, 1921 in Shamrock TX. She lived through the “dust bowl” era helping to work the family farm growing wheat and cotton, and raising cattle and chickens. She joined the Wheeler County 4-H Club when she was 10 years old and remained very active in it all through her school years. She excelled in sewing, gardening, canning and raising poultry, bringing home many awards. In 1940 Dorothy won over 35 ribbons at the Tri-State and Wheeler County Fairs. She was also her club’s president.
In 1939 Mrs. Pakan graduated from McClean High School and then enrolled in post-graduate classes in business and dietary studies. During World War II she was employed at North American Aviation in Dallas, TX as a machinist helping to build B-25’s and P-51’s.
After the war, Dorothy moved to Denver Colorado and was employed in office/administrative positions. In September 1946, she met her husband-to-be at a Lutheran young adult gathering in Whiting, IN. November 6, 1948 she married her husband Edward at Dr. Martin Luther Church, her home church in Wheeler County near her family’s farm. The couple then moved to Whiting, IN and in a couple years built a home in Highland, IN.
Mrs. Pakan was an active member of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Highland, IN beginning in 1956. In her younger years she served in its Ladies Society and for many years was chair of the funeral dinner committee, organizing and preparing much of the food. She also used her sewing skills to make altar paraments, choir robes, curtains, and banners. Her love of gardening and growing things led her to help care for the church landscaping.
She was able to tend her organic home garden until the age of 94 and was proud to use its produce to feed her family and share with neighbors and friends. Outside the home Mrs. Pakan worked at the House of Stewart Restaurant in Hammond and the Highland Ben Franklin store.
A celebration of Life will be held Saturday, May 27th at Trinity Lutheran Church, 201 Washington St, Valparaiso beginning at 11:00 a.m. with visitation from 10 – 11 a.m.  

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