Merle & Barbara Preedom RUTLAND — Merle Francis "Sam" Preedom, 94, passed away Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, following a long illness. His wife of 71 years, Barbara Mary "Barb" Preedom, 88, followed her husband into eternity on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Sam and Barb met at the Roger’s Farm Guest House in South Wallingford, where Barb worked. Sam had recently returned home to Ludlow after serving in the Army in WWII where he fought at Omaha Beach in Normandy, Belgium and Germany. The chance meeting became a budding romance and they married at the Church of the Annunciation in Ludlow on a rainy Saturday, Aug. 16, 1947. During their 71 years together, Barb and Sam experienced all of the joys and sorrows that come with a long life. They raised six children, who gave them 13 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, six great-great-grandchildren. Sam loved children and boasted a wide, warm smile whenever they were around. He loved to tease children, play games and laugh. Sam taught the children the things he loved most: deer hunting, fishing, carpentry and gardening. Barbara, who married into a family of 15, always had a special place in her heart for the women who married her sons and grandsons. She took care to make sure they felt like a welcome member of her own large family. Barb loved bird watching and often had Sam building and hanging feeders to attract hummingbirds and cardinals. Barb and Sam saw tough times, too. One of their sons served in Vietnam and they led their children in prayers over another after he was badly injured in a car accident. They helped their family through times of unemployment, addiction, divorce and the many struggles life brings. They did their work with gentleness, wisdom, and love, virtues they cultivated in their family. When Sam went to the hospital on Jan. 23, Barb soon learned that he would not be coming home. She suffered a stroke on the same day. The loving couple lay side by side, surrounded by the family they loved so much, as they journeyed to St. Peter’s gate. They are survived by their six children and spouses: Mitchell and Eva Preedom, Audrey and Donald Martin, Merle Jr., Gail and Bruce Grover, Robert and Dawn Preedom, and David and Wendy Preedom. Sam worked for Sikorsky Helicopter, Kenwood Mills, College of St. Joseph, and retired from General Electric after 26 years. Barb also worked for Kenwood Mills, Grant’s Department Store, Eastman’s Store and Seward’s Restaurant. Sam was predeceased by his parents John and Ruth (Jackson) Preedom and his siblings John, Fred, Philip, Edward, Leo, Ann Fairbanks and Margaret Preedom. He is survived by three sisters Mary Koski, Sister Miriam Predom, Faith Miele; and two brothers Ronald and Francis. Barb was predeceased by her adoptive parents Mitchel and Maisie Derosier; and her stepsiblings Rita Berry and Frank and James Fitzgerald. Funeral services will be held Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at 11 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Rutland. Msgr. Bernard W. Bourgeois will officiate. Visiting hours will be held Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Clifford Funeral Home in Rutland. Interment will be in St Joseph’s Cemetery in Rutland at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph (memo line Rutland Community Works) in care of Clifford Funeral Home. Direct mailing address is as follows: Sister of St. Joseph, 577 Carew St., Springfield, MA 01104.