In Loving Memory of Carla Hollinger: 1949-2021

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Carla Hollinger was born on Feb. 5, 1949 in Longview, Washington to the late Homer and Edna Hollinger. Carla went home to be with the Lord on Sept. 26, 2021 in Centralia, Washington. 

Carla was one of three children and a graduate of Winlock High School in Winlock, Washington. As a young girl, she grew up on a small ranch and spent as much time as she could on a horse. She was a baton majorette during her school years. In 1967, she married Harlan “Butch” Merchant, also of Winlock. Together, they had two daughters, Mardona (Mardi) and Dawn. They both loved to camp and spent many weekends with their young girls exploring the Northwest’s many campsites. 

In 1973, Carla moved to Arizona with her husband Butch along with their daughters and made Wickenburg their home. During that time, Carla worked in the restaurant industry while raising her girls. Butch and Carla divorced in 1977 and Carla and the girls relocated to Alamo Lake in Arizona, 40 miles from the nearest town and school, and she later remarried. During that time in life, Carla managed the school cafeteria and drove the school bus 90 miles roundtrip daily. 

After Carla’s girls were grown, life changed again and she moved back home to Washington in 1991 where she spent the next 17 years. During this time, she owned and operated the Ryderwood Café, where people came from all over to enjoy her pies and clam chowder. Her next venture was Northwest Crafts & Shipping in Centralia where she owned and operated it for seven-plus years before selling it and moving on to other things. It was in 2007, that she headed out to Maryland on the east coast to help her daughters with their businesses and the grandchildren. Carla’s daughters and grandchildren were her greatest blessings and how she liked to spend most of her time. 

In 2009, Carla, her oldest daughter Mardi, and granddaughter Imari headed back home to Washington where she would spend the remainder of her life. In 2012, they were joined by her youngest daughter Dawn and grandsons Jamar and Cameron. Although retired, Carla helped Dawn realize her dream and passion of opening a dessert and sandwich shoppe, Dawn’s Delectables, in historic downtown Centralia. You would find Carla at the shoppe most days helping with operations and management or visiting with family, friends, and the many customers who came to know and love her. 

Carla was a blessing to all who knew her. She was selfless, loving, caring and kind. She always took the time to listen to people who seemed to gravitate toward her, sensing or knowing she was wise, trustworthy and compassionate. 

Carla loved spending time with her family and friends, whether it was at home or on weekend road trips to quaint towns, the beach, mountains, camping or rodeos. She enjoyed working on projects on their property and just sitting on the deck taking in the view of Mount Rainier. She was an excellent cook, smart businesswoman, talented interior decorator, gardener, and most of all, the bestest mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, mother-in-law and friend. 

Carla was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her daughters Mardona “Mardi” (JimBob) Custer of Onalaska, Washington, and Dawn Merchant of Centralia, Washington; brothers Mike (Grace) Hollinger of Toledo, Washington and Dennis (Rhonda) Hollinger of Ocean Shores, Washington; grandsons Jamar and Cameron Lawson of Centralia, Washington, and Calvin, Darius, and Markis Lawson of Maryland, and granddaughter Imari Custer of Onalaska, Washington. 

A graveside homegoing service will be held at Little Falls Cemetery in Vader, Washington on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 at 12 p.m., with a celebration of life to follow at The Mason Jar in Onalaska, Washington from 2 to 6 p.m. A late lunch will be provided. All who knew and loved Carla are welcome to attend. 

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