Cover photo for Donald "Don" Mertz's Obituary
Donald "Don" Mertz Profile Photo
1936 Donald 2022

Donald "Don" Mertz

October 16, 1936 — February 4, 2022

Donald (Don) Herbert Mertz died on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022 at Mercy Hospice House in Durango. He was 85.

Don was born on Oct. 16, 1936, in Council Bluffs, IA, to Herbert and Marie (Koll) of Walnut, IA, where he graduated from Walnut High School in 1954. He attended the University of Iowa, then joined the U.S. Army in 1959 and was stationed in Germany until his discharge in 1961.He graduated with his accounting degree at Iowa and remained a Hawkeyes fan throughout his life. He was also a member of Mensa.

Don worked for the family bank for many years before moving to Estes Park, CO, where he worked for Wedgewood Realty as an accountant. He transferred to the Durango Wedgewood office, where he met Virginia Rochford, the office sales manager. She sold him the Western Outfitters business on Main Avenue, and she later became co-owner with Don after they were married on May 22, 1976, at the First Presbyterian Church in Durango.

Don not only married Virginia, a widow, he married her four children and was a loving and supportive stepfather.

After running Western Outfitters for several years, they moved to Quartzsite, AZ, where they owned and operated an RV park. They retired to Yuma, AZ, and spent time taking cruises to Alaska and other destinations, as well as spending time at the family cabin in Canada.

Virginia and Don returned to the Durango area in 2012, and purchased a home in Bayfield. They enjoyed their time with family and friends until Virginia preceded him in death in 2015. He enjoyed celebrations with his children and grandchildren, and was affectionately called "Papa Don" by family and close friends.

Don resided at Sunshine Gardens Assisted Living since 2020 just as the pandemic hit. He made the best of a challenging situation with the help of family who accompanied him to family gatherings, shared milkshakes and walks in the park, and enjoyed as vibrant a life as possible, despite the pandemic.

Don was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Virginia; his daughter Becky Sanchez and son-in-law Roland Huber. He is survived by his sister, Jean Schmitt (Joe); children Sheri Rochford Figgs (Dan), Sonny Rochford (Debbie), and Chandra Huber, along with son-in-law Jimmy Sanchez; his grandchildren, Whitney Hanscom (Dustin), Austin Rochford, Micah Sanchez, Jimi Lynn Sanchez, Georgia Huber, Bridget Huber, Melissa Johnson (Aaron), Dustin Figgs (Holly), and Amanda Figgs Ganter (Mike); numerous great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and two aunts.

The family expresses gratitude and thanks to the staff at Mercy Medical Center, Mercy Hospice House, and Sunshine Gardens. Services will be held in spring in Durango and Walnut, IA.






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