Maria Fe Baygan Merka passed peacefully, held by her daughters, on Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. She was born on September 28, 1951 in Digos, Davao del Sur (the Mindanao region) Philippines. Being the only girl of nine children, she was very well loved and doted upon by her brothers and parents.
Fe valued the importance of education, a quality she would pass on to many. After graduating high school in 1968, she went on to earn a college degree in the Science of Teaching Elementary Education in 1973. She taught fifth grade for three years in a small barrio in the Philippines. Her teaching was impactful. Years later when she visited the Philippines her students still remembered and revered her.
Often people will say that a person loved their family. This statement was never more true than for Fe.
In November of 1976, she married Raymond Selchert. Shortly after, she immigrated to America. To know Fe, was to love her. She was immediately welcomed and adored. She made a life in America filled with friends and family. In 1977, Fe welcomed her first daughter, Gail Marie. Her second child, Angela May was born in 1981, and her youngest daughter, Laurie Kay in 1983. Maria Fe Merka was the best mother this world has ever known. Her love and pride for her daughters was evident. Whether it was styling the kids in dresses, gloves, and hats for church, walking her kids to school, taking them to parks, volunteering at school events, or making popcorn for the PTA each Friday, Fe loved being a mother. She always ensured holidays and birthdays would be filled with lots of fantastic food, presents, and happy memories. As her children grew into adults and made families of their own, she remained a huge part of their daily lives. She loved being near them, talking with them, and helping them--be it with laundry and dishes, or through life's challenges. Through her example, she helped instill in her children the values of faith, integrity, determination, perseverance, kindness, and especially forgiveness. Fe's love for her children was profound. Anyone who knew her, would learn quickly how proud and happy she was with all three of her girls. Her daughters attribute their success and happiness to her selfless actions and many sacrifices.
Fe's impact and values will ripple on to her eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren. No matter how old or young the grandchild, Fe was always ready, willing, and available to be the world's greatest Lola and Grandma. She loved bouncing them as babies, pushing them in strollers, playing, doing crafts, attending games, shows, graduations, and more. Lola was always patient and kind. She loved spoiling them with gifts, treats, home-cooked Filipino food, and lots of love.
For thirty years, Fe worked at AAFES-PX in Fort Hood, Texas. She made lifelong friends while working hard to help support her family. She was known for her strong commitment and work ethic.
For years, Fe was part of the Filipino-American Association of Central Texas. She enjoyed celebrating her culture with friends through Filipino parties, food, and dancing. She took pride in rolling lumpia and bringing her favorite dish to the many prayers, potlucks, and parties.
Fe's faith in our Lord Jesus and her reverence for Mary Mother was cornerstone. She lived God's gifts of Faith, Hope, and Love in all sectors of her life. She was a saint. Fe was a devout Catholic. She was a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church since 1977. Her unmistakable love for God could be seen whether she was sitting in her favorite area of the church for mass each week, honoring the Lord through her alter in her home, or praying the Rosary before bed each night. Maria Fe Merka loved God with all her heart, soul, mind, and body. She emulated his love in her never ending strength. Although she was small, she truly was mighty. She had stronger faith, stronger capacity for forgiveness, and a stronger acceptance for any type of pain, than any person could expect to have. Be it good times or challenging times, Fe was God's faithful servant.
Fe was preceded in death and welcomed into heaven by: her parents Timoteo and Pilar Merka and Raymond and Eileen Selchert, her brothers Antonio “Tony” Merka, Roberto “Rubing” Merka, Julian “John” Merka, Raymundo “Nonick” Merka, and Welfredo “Bel” Merka.
She is survived and greatly missed by: her daughters, Gail Wilkins, Angela Thomas, and Laurie Selchert, her brothers Wenefredo “Winnie” Merka, Felix “Fayling” Merka, Rodolfo “Rod” Merka, her grandchildren Armando “Junior” Gutierrez, Wesley Texas Gutierrez, Jordan Wilkins, Abigail Wilkins, Sarah-Pilar “Meggie” Wilkins, Gwendolyn Thomas, Jackson Baumann, Scarlett Baumann, her great grandchildren Ryan Salazar, Olivia Gutierrez, Vicente Gutierrez; Johnny Ray Selchert, and a family of many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends that have been touched by her love, good deeds, and warm heart.
To respectfully honor Fe’s memory her Pallbearers are Armando “Junior” Gutierrez, Wesley Gutierrez, Justin Thomas, Jason Wilkins, Johnny Ray Selchert, Fernando Guevara, and Riley Baumann.
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