Joanne Elizabeth “Joni” (Martin) Merio
August 26, 1945 - June 18, 2022
Sometime in the very early hours of Saturday, June 18th Joanne Elizabeth (Martin) Merio moved quietly while sleeping into the arms of the Everlasting God, her Savior. She had been suffering from advanced dementia and been bedridden for several months under the care of visiting nurses and her husband, Peter.
Joanne (or “Joni” as she preferred to be called) was born on August 26th, 1945 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Raymond Benjamin Martin, Sr. and Marguerite Ruth (Johnson) Martin. She graduated from Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls, Minnesota in 1967 but her schooling was split over two continents since the work of her Father as pastor and evangelist brought the family to Finland around 1960 for 16 years. In Finland Joni studied vocal arts at the Sibelius Academy, the main professional music conservatory in the country, advancing all the way to a post graduate diploma in 1975, now considered equivalent to a doctorate. She completed her studies with a Master Course in Ossiah, Austria, taught by Christa Ludwig.
Throughout her education she remained an integral part of her parents’ ministry, teaching Sunday School in the English language church services for many years. Joni loved children and they loved her, some even eventually becoming theologians. Other aspects of her work in Finland consisted of numerous solo and ensemble performances, some of them in churches but mostly in large independent Bible society events as well as singing in the professional Radio Symphony Choir and in several operas.
In 1974 Joni married Pekka “Peter” Merio, a student in Choral Arts and a couple of years later a graduate in Choral and Orchestral conducting. The couple decided in 1976 to dedicate their lives and talents to the Lord and ended up moving to America in 1977. The original intention was to divide their time between the two countries but the Bibles made available to Russian tourists in their language as they were viewing the “Church in the Rock” where Peter and Joni provided music for visitors created no small a stir all the way to the Finnish Parliament and the Archbishop.
In the USA Joni and Peter traveled for concerts and meetings, sometimes with the Martins. Joni also worked as a choir conductor and vocal coach as well as a vital support to her husband in his several positions as director and minister of music. Like her husband, she was a songwriter, and considering her love for children it is not surprising that several of her songs appear on the pro-life album “The Smile That Never Was.” Typical for a music professional she did not actually listen to a lot of music but she was an avid reader and student on issues ranging from nutrition to prophesy and current events particularly relating to God’s redemptive purpose.
She is survived by her husband Peter, her son Christopher John Merio, grandchildren Annika and Jeremy, her sisters Gloria Merriman and Deborah Fisher as well as cousins, nieces and nephews. Joni is preceded in death by her parents and her brother R. Benjamin Martin, Jr.. A memorial and a time of fellowship will be held in the King’s Assembly of God building in Marshallton on Saturday, July 9th at 2 PM. The address is 3700 Kiamensi Avenue, Wilmington, Delaware 19808.