James P. Mertens, 93, passed away Feb. 4, 2021 at Willowpark Place, New Holstein.
He was born June 9, 1927 to the late Clemens and Marie (Menne) Mertens. Jim attended SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Grade School and graduated from Kiel High School. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1946. After receiving an honorable discharge from the service, he worked at Nordberg Manufacturing in Milwaukee. Upon the death of his father in 1947, Jim returned to Kiel to help his mother run the family dairy farm. He purchased the farm in 1950, and it became a permanent part of his soul.
Jim spoke often about his time in the Navy and working in Milwaukee, and he appreciated the fact that he met and learned from many different people. He also talked about the kindness of his neighboring farmers, when, as a novice, he returned to run the dairy farm. They shared their time, wisdom, equipment, and genetics so that he could build a successful herd of cows of which he was proud.
Jim met a beautiful teacher at a dance at the Hollywood on Wolf Lake, Irene Medvecz. She became his wife on June 30, 1951 in Wausau. They shared almost 70 years of marriage, working together to raise a family, run the farm, overcome hardships, and rejoice in accomplishments.
He continued his education by attending Farm Vocational Training and Leadership Programs. Jim proudly served on the Board of Directors of Citizen State Bank, Tri-County Cooperative, and Lake to Lake. He was on the Land O’ Lakes District Board, SS. Peter and Paul School Board, and the Parish Council.
Jim traveled to many states as a board member but enjoyed traveling worldwide for pleasure. As a couple, they traveled to Mexico, Panama, Fiji, China, and throughout Europe. Jim and Irene wintered in Arizona for 20 years after retirement.
Jim is survived by his wife, Irene; children Mary (John) Marren of Chicago; Darlene (Gary) Balgord of Madison; Joseph (Kelly) Mertens of Kiel; Steven (Terri) Mertens of Longmont, Colorado; and Anthony (Wendy) Mertens of New Holstein; and grandchildren Mary Eileen Marren, Brian (McKayle) Marren, J. J. Marren (Lauren Orth), Sarah (Matt) Stran, Elizabeth Balgord (Cameron Colburn), Ben (Megan) Balgord, Joshua (Jessica) Mertens, Jacob (Katrina) Mertens, Jolene (Sam) Blankenship, and David Mertens. Jim is further survived by his great-grandchildren, Harper Roy, Jackson Mertens, Juliana Mertens, Jaden Mertens, Jonathan Mertens, Cora Balgord, and Beckett Balgord; and siblings Clemens (Pat) Mertens and Kitty (Ed) Shumaker.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and his siblings, Leo (Fay) Mertens, Jeannette Hanson, Francis (Louise) Mertens, Raymond (Mary) Mertens, Robert (Winifred) Mertens, Sister Mary Jane Mertens, Sister Doris Mertens, and infant brother John.
Jim loved his wife, his children, and the farm. He loved babies, reading the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and sweets. Jim had a great sense of humor and was kind, caring, and compassionate. He was always a forward thinker and embraced new technology. Jim was a good man.
The family thanks the Calumet County Hospice staff, especially nurse Gina and the staff at Willowpark Place. We appreciate the care you gave him during his final days and as he gently left this world.
Private family services will be held, and Jim will be laid to rest at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery with Military Honors. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.meiselwitzfh.com.