Merry Jo Dallas passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Feb. 22, in Fort Collins, at the age of 81. She was born on January 3, 1941, in Ault, to Harold and Margaret (Tomlinson) Stewart.
Merry Jo received a Bachelor’s degree in home economics, textiles and clothing from Colorado State University in 1962. She received her Master’s degree from CSU in 1965. Merry Jo was an associate professor in the Department of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University for 34 years, teaching apparel design and construction, and specializing in the design of clothing for individuals with special needs.
Everyone who knew Merry Jo will remember that sewing and apparel design were a big part of her life from an early age. She began her career at the age of seven by joining 4-H club meetings that her mother led, making sure that she “was a general nuisance until she finally got to join.” A highlight of the years of sewing projects that followed was when, at the age of 15, Merry Jo won the National Make-It-With-Wool Contest. Her winnings included a two-week trip to Europe, and she was chosen to present a hand-spun, Colorado wool jacket, which Merry Jo tailored herself, to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. A few years later, while she was a freshman at CSU, she was also one of six 4-H Club members chosen from all over the United States to present the annual report of club work to President Eisenhower and members of Congress. She spoke proudly about meeting the President throughout her life.
Merry Jo graduated with honors from Ault High School in 1958 and from CSU in 1962, winning scholarships from the Centennial Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Singer Sewing Machine Co. At CSU, she was an officer in the Spur and Hesperia women’s honorary societies and commander of Angel’s Flight, ROTC auxiliary. After graduating from college, Merry Jo was a home extension agent for Arapahoe County in Littleton, before beginning her Master’s degree at CSU in the fall of 1963, and ultimately joining the faculty of the Department of Design and Merchandising at CSU. She was one of 14 graduate students in the U.S. to receive a Vocational Rehabilitation Administration Traineeship grant.
In January 1963, Merry Jo met the love of her life, Jack, who had just arrived in Fort Collins to start a new job with CSU. They married later that year, raised their two daughters (Angie and Susie), and were inseparable until Jack’s passing in 2010. Merry Jo and Jack enjoyed time both pre- and post-retirement traveling in their Winnebago motorhome and with their friends in a local motorhome club, and spoiling their two little dogs, Gia and Zorro.
Merry Jo was an accomplished professional and homemaker, making sure her two daughters grew up with many of the same skills. Throughout her life, Merry Jo enjoyed sewing and teaching others to sew, including both of her daughters, who were also champions in the 4-H program. She was very proud of her grandchildren, Thomas, Joey, and Elizabeth, and followed their busy lives through photos and visits, happily using her “grandma bragging rights” whenever making new acquaintances.
Merry Jo was preceded in death by her husband of 46 years, Don Jackson (Jack) Dallas, Jr. She is survived by her daughters, Angie Dallas Sebor (Martin) and Susie Dallas Hattan (Bill); by her three grandchildren, Thomas, Joey and Elizabeth Hattan; by her sister, Colleen Griffin (Alvin); and by her niece, Deborah Griffin.
A celebration of life for Merry Jo will be held on at 1 p.m., Monday, April 4, at Allnutt Drake Chapel in Fort Collins. In lieu of flowers, donations in Merry Jo’s name can be made to the Fort Collins Chapter of the American Sewing Guild – President-Cynthia Gilbreth, 2024 Nucla Ave Loveland, CO 80538 (https://fortcollinssewingguild.org).
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.allnuttftcollins.com for the Dallas family.