Loved Ones Live on Through Memorial Funds

During times of crisis, we are reminded of how fragile and precious life is. How the loss of one person can leave a hole in the hearts and minds of everyone they knew. When it’s our mother, many of us quickly come to the realization that we’ve lost one that could love us unconditionally, but we may not fully comprehend how much she meant to others.
YouthBridge Community Foundation has helped honor the lives of two special women and mothers – and carry on their legacy of love – through the establishment of memorial funds. “The story of our life is written on the hearts of every person we’ve impacted, touched, created a memory for,” says Michael Howard, YouthBridge CEO. “A memorial fund is a way for families to continue the story of the ones that brought so much light to their world.”

The Annie Carter Mersmann Memorial Fund is a tribute to a wife and mother of three small children who lost her battle with cervical cancer in 2004, with proceeds donated to Annie’s Hope. Annie made significant contributions to many causes during her brief 37 years, including teen mentoring, natural childbirth and parenting, bible study and young adult ministry. A native of St. Louis, Annie attended Visitation Academy and later Saint Louis University and the University of Chicago. She and husband Ken had three children – Joy, Gracie and Mark – all under the age of seven when Annie passed.

While dealing with her death, Ken discovered Annie’s Hope, a local nonprofit providing counseling and support services at no charge to bereaved families. He and the children participated in the family support groups of Annie’s Hope, and the girls attended Camp Courage, a five-day camp where grieving kids and teens connect, explore their emotions and learn coping skills. “Annie’s Hope played a crucial role in helping us through a really tough, sad time and empowering our children to move forward,” says Ken. “It wasn’t coincidence that we found strength in an organization that shares ourAnnie’s name, and only fitting that we would designate a fund in her memory to helping other grieving families.”

The Mary Lou Howard Memorial Fund honors a mother that filled her nearly 89 years with hard work, laughter, dance, love and giving back. Born in 1930 in Kansas City, MO, Mary Lou began working at the age of 13, while the world was at war. Married 62 years, Mary Lou had three children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren when she passed in 2019. After retiring from The Jones Store, she became a member of the Northland Clown Guild and volunteered at North Kansas City Hospital, The Vineyard Church and as a lunch-buddy at Nashua Elementary School. She also began a second career as a school crossing guard.

A friend remembered how excited the students at Nashua would be to see her. “At times, she would come in her clown attire and thrill the kids during dismissal. They really loved her,” she says. Michael Howard, Mary Lou’s son, says that donations to her memorial fund benefit the school where she found and brought so much joy. “We’re remembering Mom in the way she would have wanted,” he says.

Contact us or call (314) 985-6778 to discuss setting up a memorial fund.