WEST BEND -- Lifelong West Bend resident and John Deere business owner, "Jack", J.B. Mertz, Jr., who won recognition for his small Iowa town when he was named an "Outstanding Young Man of America" in 1965, died on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 at the age of 84, surrounded by his family.
Jack was the husband of Mary Helen Mertz, with whom he shared 64 years of marriage. Jack, the youngest of nine children, was a wonderful son, brother, uncle, husband, father and friend. He is forever our hero and we will forever love and miss him.
He was born to the late John B. and Susan (Plathe) Mertz, June 6, 1929 in Algona. A 1947 graduate of Loras Military Academy in Dubuque, he attended Loras College for two years before returning to West Bend to help run the family John Deere and hog businesses. He married Mary Helen Greener on June 20, 1949, and they have always made West Bend their home, where Jack was an active member of SS Peter and Paul's Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, and the West Bend community.
In 1959 he took over ownership of the John Deere business, which had been started by his father in 1917. He semi-retired in 2000 at which time his son, John, took over at the helm. Jack served on the City Council in 1963 and West Bend Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. One of his favorite ventures was being instrumental in establishing the West Bend Country Club and the opening of the West Bend Swimming Pool. He loved being an Iowa State Booster. Known by many for his generosity and caring, he was also a scratch golfer and card shark, often to the dismay of many! His engaging smile, welcoming personality and infectious laugh will always be remembered by family and friends.
Jack is survived by his wife, Mary Helen, and six children, including John Mertz, (Linda), West Bend; Linda Martin (Dr. Dale), Bethlehem, PA; Jeff Mertz, Omaha, NE; Pat Mertz (Pam), Omaha, NE; Lisa Davenport (Joe), St. Louis, MO; Kara Berg (John), Dallas, TX; 14 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren; his brother-in-law Rolland Bleuer; 37 nieces and nephews, and many extended family members.
He was preceded in death by his parents and all his siblings: Don, Harvey, Genny, Flo, Bea, Kay, Dode, Bette and a foster brother, Andrew Smiecho-wicz.
Funeral service for Jack Mertz was held Wednesday, Sept. 4, at SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church in West Bend. Concelebrating the funeral mass were the Rev. Thomas Hart, the Rev. Edmund Tiedeman and the Rev. Merle Kollasch.
Interment was in West Bend Cemetery, West Bend. The Harris Funeral Home in West Bend was in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Hospice of Palo Alto County, 3201 First Street, Emmetsburg, IA 50536.
Online condolences: www.harrisfuneralservices.com