Jack L. Mertz, age 69, of Sidney, passed away peacefully at home in Sidney, NE on Saturday, January 6, 2024. In the days preceding, he had been surrounded by family and friends, sharing stories, jokes and memories. His trademark sense of humor blessed us all during this time. Special thanks are extended to the nursing staff and PT/OT department of SMRC and to the Morrill County Ambulance Crew who showed exceeding kindness on his final ride home. A Wake Service will be held at 6:00 P.M. on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Sidney, NE. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 A.M. Thursday, January 11, 2024 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church with Father C.P. Varghese, Father Joseph Hannappel and Bishop James Golka officiating. Full Military Graveside Services will follow at Greenwood Cemetery in Sidney. Services will be livestreamed on the Gehrig-Stitt Chapel Facebook page and recorded for later viewing on our website. Memorials are suggested to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project or in care of the family. The casket will be closed.
Friends may stop at the Gehrig-Stitt Chapel on Wednesday from 1-4:00 P.M. p.m. to leave condolences for the family.
You may view Jack's Book of Memories, leave condolences, photos and stories at http://www.gehrigstittchapel.com. Gehrig-Stitt Chapel & Cremation Service, LLC is in charge of Jack's care and funeral arrangements.
Jack was born on April 16, 1954 in Denver, CO to Lyman and Betty Jo (Kendall) Mertz. He graduated from Meritt Hutton High School in Thornton in 1972. In 1974, Jack joined the Navy and was stationed in both Naples, Italy and Sigonella, Sicily where he worked as a mechanic on C-2 aircraft. During this time, he developed a deep and abiding love for the Sicilian culture. He also made many friends and two of those, Dougie and Timmy, remained life-long "Navy buddies."
In 1970, at a youth group in Holy Cross Catholic Church of Thornton CO, Jack met Patti Beisheim. Through this group and through working on retreats at the Bethlehem Center in Broomfield they became good friends. This friendship eventually deepened into a life-long partnership when they were married on November 29, 1974. To this marriage were born 4 daughters, Jennifer, Sarah, Stephanie and Michelle along with 1 son, Mathew, who is buried in Sicily. The family moved to Sidney in the summer of 1987. During his lifetime, Jack worked a number of jobs that utilized his mechanical gifts as well and his ability to connect with and care for people; notably, youth ministry at St. Patrick's in Sidney and the diocese of Grand Island, ConServ Flag and Central Elementary School.
He was a talented self-taught guitar player and singer. The music he shared became an integral part of family gatherings and church events. Growing vegetables and feeding all manner of birds became his favorite past times at home in recent years. But the absolute love and light of his life was spending time with family, especially his nine grandchildren. "Papa" was well known for his ice cream runs, fishing trips and planting and harvesting a yearly corn crop. Jack spent the majority of his life living with Bi-polar. He was a fierce advocate for removing stigma and promoting equal access to health care for all people living with mental illness.
Jack Mertz was preceded in death by his parents, beloved younger brother Russell Mertz, and infant son Matthew.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Pat; sisters Margaret and John Keeler of Eustis, FL and Helen and Kent Bohac of Sequim, WA; daughters Jennifer Mertz and husband Troy Callander of Wichita, KS, Sarah Mertz of Anchorage, AK, Stephanie Mertz-Valentine and partner Craig Cleveland of Gurley NE and Michelle and husband Adam Hollingshead of Sidney, NE. Grandchildren Dav, Kati, Michael, Ellie, Madi, Matt, Jack, CJ, and Ainsley. He is also survived by his intrepid four-legged walking buddy Digby with whom he logged hundreds of miles.
Jack was eagerly anticipating the arrival of his great-grandaughter.