Ronald Mertens

Ronald William Mertens was born Dec. 14, 1935, to William and Elina (Erbe) Mertens, in Thomastown Township, Wadena County, Minn. He graduated from Staples High School in Staples, Minn.
Ron entered the U.S. Air Force Jan. 21, 1953, and began basic training at Parks Air Force Base in California, transferring to Ft. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., finally transferring to Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) in Rapid City, S.D. 
Ron met the love of his life while at Ellsworth AFB and married Barbara Feb. 3, 1957, after being honorably discharged from the service. The two welcomed into the world four loving children: Diana, Ron Jr., Karen and Todd. These children blessed Ron and Barbara with eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Ron worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 30 years, retiring July 1, 1985, and then worked for Custer State Park for 26 years, retiring Dec. 21, 2012.
Ron’s passions were many, including fishing, hunting, cooking and self- taught carpentry. But the passion that made his heart most full was spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Ron’s family meant everything to him.
Ron, of Custer, S.D., died April 16, 2020, at his home in Custer. He was 84.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara of Custer; daughters, Diana (Douglas) Freeland of Wright, Wyo., and Karen (Dean) Whitney of Custer; sons, Ronald W. (Bobbie) Mertens Jr. of Gillette, Wyo., and Todd Mertens of Belle Fourche, S.D.; brother, James Mertens of Salem, Ore.; sister, Ardy Baxter of Charles City, Iowa; grandchildren, Nicholas and Michael Freeland of Gillette, Sara Barrick and Casey Whitney of Custer,  Sara Mertens Zimmerman of Gillette, Heather Mertens of Gillette, and Paige and Jozey Mertens of Belle Fourche; and great-grandchildren, Jersey and Phoenix Barrick, Oaklie and Kaylie Whitney and Keeli and Syfina Zimmerman.
Ron’s honorary pallbearers include all of his family and close friends.
Services are pending until the coronavirus restrictions are removed. At that time committal services will be held at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, S.D. 
Arrangements have been placed in the care of Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home in Custer.

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