WATSONTOWN — Robert K. Mertz, 90, a resident of the Watsontown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and a former resident of Point Township, died on Friday, Nov. 7th, 2014.
Robert, a son of the late William and Grace (Heiser) Mertz, was born on March 26, 1924.
He attended Northumberland schools, and graduated from Northumberland High School in 1942.
Robert joined the United States Navy during World War II, leaving the family farm in Point Township and heading off to war from the train station on Front Street in Northumberland. He served in the US Naval Armed Guard, a branch of the Navy whose personnel served aboard merchant ships. Robert served for a time aboard the SS Stephen A. Douglas, one of many Liberty Ships constructed to carry men and material overseas for the war effort. He also served on aboard Landing Craft Supply Vessel 30. Due to constant attacks by enemy submarines, ships, and aircraft, the US Naval Armed Guard suffered a casualty rate during World War II that was second only to the United States Marine Corps.
After the end of the war, Robert’s plans to continue his studies at Bucknell University changed when his father asked him to help with the family farm.
Robert built a home directly next to his parents’ home in Point Township, and he continued with farming and butchering for most of his adult life.
He worked for several years at the former Mertz Greenhouses on Route 147. He was also employed as an inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Robert was an avid outdoorsman, and enjoyed hunting and fishing. He was an award-winning marksman, particularly in trap shooting. He served for many years as the faithful treasurer of the Susquehannock Hunters and for more than four decades as the secretary treasurer of the Norry Gun Club. He traveled much of North America as a big game hunter.
Travelers along Route 147 in Point Township will no doubt recall Robert darting back and forth across the busy highway on his golf cart. He spent many hours at Mertz Meats, the business owned and operated by his son, Jeff.
In the last year of his life, Robert brought countless smiles to the staff and residents of the Watsontown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center with his good-natured greetings, sense of humor, and harmonica-playing.
He would often call out, “Hiya, honey!” to the nurses and staff members who cared for him. Robert’s family will remain forever grateful to these thoughtful and compassionate people for their care and support.
In addition to his parents, Robert was preceded in death by one brother, William, and one sister, Vivian, as well as his wife of thirty-three years, Betsy.
Robert was particularly close to his uncle, Boyd Mertz, a US Army veteran of World War I who died in 1993.
Robert is survived by three sons, Steve, Doug, and Jeff Mertz, of Northumberland; two stepsons, Tom Deppen, of Sunbury and John Deppen, of Northumberland; two sisters, Betty Reitz, of Winfield and Linda Deibler, of Elizabethville; one brother, Neil Mertz, of Northumberland; numerous grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins and his previous wife, Doris.
Friends and family may call from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Joseph Epler Funeral Home 210 King Street, Northumberland, where the funeral service will begin at 11 a.m.
Following the funeral, Robert will be laid to rest with his parents and sister in Northumberland’s Riverview Cemetery. American Legion Post #44 will render military honors at the graveside.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Robert’s name can be sent to the Pennsylvania Veterans Foundation, PO Box 98, Annville, PA 17003. Donations can also be made online at www.paveteransfoundation.org
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