Ms. Ramona departed this life on August 10, 2023, surrounded by her loving family at the age of 94. She will be dearly missed by her family, as well as every life she touched throughout her ministry.
She was born on September 12, 1928, in Blanche, TN, the fourth child of eight, to the late Lossie and Finetta (Thompson) Hall. Her family were share croppers and moved quite often. All members of her family were expected to work in the fields. They had fields of cotton, corn and sugar cane, plus a very large garden for the present and enough to be canned for winter. Ramona and her siblings were expected to milk cows before and after school. After high school, Ramona attended Draughon’s Business School in Nashville, TN and later attended Tennessee Temple College in Chattanooga, TN. Then, she transferred to Union University where she received her bachelor’s degree. She also earned her master’s degree in religious education from Carver School of Missions and Social Work in Louisville, KY.
They were appointed by the IMB in March 1955 for service in Japan. Along with her husband Dewey, they spent thirty-eight years as missionaries to Japan, where the two were primarily involved in the ministry of starting new churches and strengthening existing ones. As a woman, Mercer had special opportunities to witness to the Japanese women in a variety of ways. They attended Language School together in Tokyo for two years before their work assignment to Takamatsu on the Island of Shikoku, began. Together, they raised two children, Darlene and Dale. Ramona had many responsibilities while they were in Japan, including Sunday school teacher, organist for worship service, part time home school teacher, volunteer English teacher for school community, held Japanese cooking classes, taught quilting and patch work, taught doll making, and English at a Trade School. She was Associate Director of WMU of Japan 1978-1985 and did several mission trips in Asia. During this time WMU began financial support of a Children’s Home in Puri, India. Ramona was the leader of a Mission Women’s group called “The Mission Family” and lead Japanese people to the Lord.
The Japan Baptist Convention leaders asked them to go to the City of Matsue which is located on the sea coast of Western Japan. It would be the last ten years before retirement. They knew that it would be very difficult requiring much patience and prayer, because This part of Japan is steeped in historical religions especially Shintoism. We decided to try to minister to the young Japanese- they would be open to new ideas and possibly easier to accept new/different religious thought. It was not easy, but God is good. He is faithful and the church began to grow.
God called Dewey to His side April 17, 1991. He had a sudden massive heart attack. They had planned leave for furlough and retirement in June of the same year. Her children were able to come to Japan for a week for the funeral and give much help to me in preparation for my return to America.
After retirement, she was the first Missionary-in-Residence at Union University. Ramona served as a dormitory director and part time Japanese teacher at Union for two years. Since that time, she has served in her local church as Sunday school teacher & WMU Director. She volunteered at Union University and World-Wide Missions Trips.
Ramona was the Sponsor of the Missionary Kid group of students at Union University. They lovingly called her "Aunt Ramona". She served the Madison/Chester Association as the assistant WMU Director. The Ramona Mercer Mission House was created at Union University.
Ramona Mercer has lived the kind of life that many students at Union University hope to someday live themselves. She has been involved in God’s work locally and overseas through various ministries and mission work, touching lives wherever she has gone.
Citing Union as the place where she really became grounded in her faith as a student, Mercer said the biggest influence at Union was her continual involvement in the activities of the Baptist Student Union (BSU). The primary source of mission activities for the university at the time, the BSU provided students with the opportunity to participate in mission work in Jackson and surrounding areas. Mercer remembers the BSU as a place where relationships were formed that lasted throughout the course of her college experience in addition to the opportunities she had to work in local churches. The experience of doing this type of ministry strengthened Mercer’s personal commitment to missions and helped shape the course of the rest of her life.
Ramona has been written about in the Cardinal and Cream on several different occasions, including articles such as “Hard-Headed in a Good Way: The Life and Legacy of Union’s First Missionary in Residence” and “Earthquake, tsunami hit Japan; Unionites feel loss”. She was awarded the school's highest service recognition called “The Robert E. Craig Service Award’, recognizing her life service both in missions and at the university.was recently honored to be one of Union’s “100 Most Influential” and she was also honored to be in Union University’s Hall of Honor.
Left to cherish her memory are her children, Dale Mercer (Cheryl) and Darlene Tanner (David); grandchildren, Bryce Mercer (Kelly), Nolan Tanner (Jill), and Emily Johnson (Collin); great-grandchildren, Daisy Tanner, Jude Tanner, Lily Lewis, and Bodhi Mercer; and sister, Doris Diven.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Dewey Mercer; parents, Lossie and Finetta Thompson Hall; and siblings, Jewel Bennet, Edd Hall, Sidney Hall, Bill Hall, Bobby Hall, and Arzel Hall.
A memorial service will be held 1:00 p.m. Friday, August 18, 2023, at Calvary Baptist Church. The family will receive friends from 11:00 a.m. until the time of service.
Arrington Funeral Directors, 148 W. University Pkwy., Jackson, TN 38305, 731.668.1111, www.arringtonfuneraldirectors.com