A photo of Joanne Elizabeth “Joni” (Martin) Merio

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.

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6 Condolences for Joanne Elizabeth “Joni” (Martin) Merio

  • Dear Gloria *** Sincere condolences to you and your family. What a blessing that your dear sister is now with the Lord. Keeping you in my prayers that our Lord will bless you all with His comfort and peace.

  • We do not grieve as those who have no hope. You are missed, but this separation is only temporary.

  • I am not the lucky person that had a chance to sit at the table and have long conversations with Joni, but I am thankful that I had a chance to hear her sweet voice singing, I had a chance to hear she asking me many times if her son was a good boy.
    I feel extremely lucky that I had a chance to see Peter’s eyes when he looked at her. Those eyes were like a teenager eyes looking to his first love. I am lucky because I am one of the privileged few that had a chance to see a real, beautiful, and rare love story.
    Bible says in psalms 127:3 that “children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” Joni left in this world her heritage, and I can see so much of her on him. And one more time I feel blessed to have so much of her with me for the rest my life.
    Joni, I wish I had a chance to live a little more with you, but I am so thankful for your life and all your legacy. I can’t imagine how many lives you touched in your life with your faith, your song, and your words about God. May your voice keep traveling through the world and bringing the joy and grace from our Savior.
    Rest in peace, Joni. You will always be remembered.

  • Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. john 11-25/26, Jesus came back for her and now she has eternal life. our sincere feelings to the family and friends. the heaven is celebrating to have Joni there.

  • I was very fond of Pat as a 2-year younger cousin. My hope of love reaches her daughter and children during these difficult times. Patricia was/is special.

  • Please accept our deepest sympathy and our sincere condolences. Mr. And Mrs. Christian Dougherty.