Maria Jeannette Merrill


Maria Jeannette Merrill, 62, of Columbus, passed away on February 19, 2024, at Columbus Regional Hospital. She was born May 15, 1961, to the late Harold and Betty Rathsman Lane in Columbus and was united in marriage to Gordon Merrill on August 10, 1998.

A graduate of Columbus East High School, Jeannette’s thirst for knowledge and her dedication to serving others defined her life’s journey. She pursued higher education with unwavering determination, earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Evansville, her Master of Science in Nursing Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and went on to earn a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the Nashville School of Law. Jeannette was a member of the American Society of Health Risk Management, the Health Care Compliance Association, the American Health Lawyer’s Association, and the Tennessee Bar Association.

Jeannette’s professional career exemplified her passion for both healthcare and law. Before moving back to Columbus, Jeannette worked at Lincoln Health System in Fayetteville, Tennessee as the Chief Legal Officer, and also for the Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga, Tennessee for 18 years where she served as a Clinical Nurse Specialist and later as the Privacy Program Manager. She wore many hats throughout her career, demonstrating her versatility and commitment to those she cared for. Most recently, she served as a Privacy Officer for Columbus Regional Hospital, ensuring the protection of patient rights and confidentiality.

Her contributions to the field were recognized locally and nationally, as she became a published author in the Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Jeannette embraced life with boundless energy and enthusiasm.

An avid gardener, she found solace and joy in nurturing her garden, creating vibrant spaces that reflected her love for nature. She was also an avid swimmer and took great pleasure in the art of home remodeling and interior design.

Jeannette’s adventurous spirit led her to explore the world whenever time permitted. She cherished her travels to Ireland, Europe, and a Caribbean cruise.

Jeannette is survived by her devoted husband, Gordon of Columbus, and her children: Matthew (Kelly) Kreitzer of Virginia, Jeremy (Ashley) Merrill, and Gregory (Kendal) Merrill, all of Tennessee; Sarah Kreitzer (Cliff Nelson) of Ohio and Bethany Merrill of Tennessee, her granddaughter Hazel Nelson of Ohio, and her brothers, Mike (Jackie) Lane and Mark Lane, both of Columbus. She was preceded in death by her parents.

A Celebration of Jeannette’s remarkable life is scheduled for Thursday, February 29, 2024, at Jewell-Rittman Family Funeral Home beginning at 6:00 pm to include a tribute from the Nursing Honor Guard. A time of visitation with the family will begin at 4:00 pm.

In keeping with Jeannette’s wishes, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Heart Association to support women’s heart health.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Jewell-Rittman Family Funeral Home.