Merciel Smith Doty Louisville, KY

MERCIEL SMITH DOTY, Louisville, KY, was born March 8, 1919, Cleveland, Ohio, the second of four children to the Ohio Methodist family of Rev. Dr. Stanley and Nellie Smith.
Merciel was first in her class, 1937 valedictorian of Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, OH, and also of Mount Union College, Alliance, OH, where she held the honor of first woman senior class president in the school’s history, 1941. Firsts were common among Smiths: Mother Nellie Hawkins was the first woman editor of Mount Union College’s yearbook and the school’s first May Queen.
Her senior year, Merciel met Lakewood, OH, freshman pre-ministerial student, James Edward Doty. They fell in love, married September 8, 1943, where Jim enrolled in Boston University’s School of Theology. She and Jim lived at 45 Beacon Street where they worked for the Boston Council for Boy Scouts in the estate home of Harrison Gray Otis. She was secretary-cook, he was janitor-painter. After overseas study where she often heard C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein lecture as she attended classes within the Oxford colleges with Jim, then cycled throughout Europe while Merciel was pregnant with their first child, Mark.
They settled in Lynn, MA where family life and ministry grew. The Dotys had three children: Mark in 1948, David in 1950 and Martha in 1953, all born in Salem, MA.
Jim’s new post moved the family to Indianapolis, IN, 1957-1966 where he pioneered a Lilly Foundation grant to establish eight pastoral counseling centers for the United Methodist Church. Merciel attended classes at Butler University, taught preschool, worked in the local church, traveled, and tutored her children in Africa while she enjoyed magical family summers in Acworth, NH and Lakeside, OH.
In 1966, Merciel became First Lady of Baker University, Baldwin City, KS where Jim was President, until 1973 when they moved to Corpus Christi, TX. In 2000 they returned back to Alliance roots to the place of their first date, the local movie theatre.
A fan of globetrotting, she visited over 90 countries with Jim and the family who together led 19 Christian tours to the Holy Land. Merciel was a lover of God’s natural world, always fascinated whether she stopped to identify a bird expertly trained by her ornithologist aunt, Alta Smith, to study a pride of lions hiding in the grasses of Wanke Game Preserve or to marvel at the vast plains of the Serengeti from a balloon above.
Merciel was a pioneer, often a first doer: created a liturgical dance group in the 50’s, founded two first preschools in Baldwin, KS and in Francistown, Botswana, and wrote a one woman theatre piece titled, The Three Marys. Hymnody, singing, music was her deeper resonant joy.
She received awards of distinction throughout her life service to church, education, Christian family life, hospitality. She was a gifted speaker, writer, teacher, preacher who told personal stories about the life of Jesus with impactful relevancy. A lifelong fan of mirth, humor was a constant; always with an endearing smile or positive, wise word. She was a member of Alpha Xi Delta Sorority, P.E.O., U.M.W. and Union Avenue United Methodist Church, Alliance, OH.
Merciel’s blessed role was grandmother to her four adored grandchildren and to their families, Andrew Justin Doty of San Antonio, TX, Jessica Doty Klausing of Louisville, KY, James Joseph Doty of Dallas, TX, and Claire Blythe Doty of Brewer, ME.
Merciel Smith Doty is survived by her three children, Rev. Dr. Mark Allen Doty of Brewer, ME, Dr. David W. Doty and Mrs. Jill Doty of Maysville, KY and Mrs. Martha Doty Harwell and Mr. Douglas M. Harwell of Aberdeenshire UK¸ four grandchildren, four great grandchildren; four nieces, six nephews; her sister, Mrs. Dorothy Brown, Kalamazoo, MI, brother-in-law, Mr. Thomas Doty and Mrs. Carol Doty, Florence, SC., and cousin, Mrs. Corinne Richardson and Mr. Peter Richardson, Exeter, NH.
Her husband of 64 years, Rev. Dr. James Edward Doty preceded her in death, June 15th, 2008. She was preceded in death by siblings, Mrs. Catherine Ferrell and Mr. Harold Smith.
A summer memorial service is planned for June 8, 2013 at 2:00pm, Bennett Chapel, Copeland Oaks Retirement Community, Sebring, OH. Visitation with family will take place an hour prior to the service. Interment is Grandview Cemetery, Salem, OH.
Arrangements by Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Service of Alliance, OH. Friends may register online at
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in honor of Merciel Smith Doty may be sent to The Lakeside Fund of Lakeside Chautauqua Foundation, 236 Walnut Avenue, Lakeside OH 43440 or online to The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
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