Cover photo for Jerry Lee Merz's Obituary
Jerry Lee Merz Profile Photo
1933 Jerry 2019

Jerry Lee Merz

December 24, 1933 — March 10, 2019

Seneca, NE- Jerry Lee Merz age 85 of Seneca died Sunday, March 10, 2019, at his home near Seneca.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, March 15, 2019, at 1:00 PM MST at the Seneca Auditorium.  A visitation will be held on Thursday, March 14, 2019, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Mullen Funeral Home.  Memorials are suggested to the Seneca Cemetery or the Thedford Area Community Foundation.  Burial will be in the Seneca Cemetery.  Mullen Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences can be left at

Jerry Lee Merz was born December 24, 1933, just a few hours before Christmas Day, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, to Wendell and Margie (Anspach) Merz.  His mother named him Daniel Lee, but when his father arrived a week later, he changed the name of his son to Jerry Lee.

Jerry spent most of his life at the family ranch, which was homesteaded by his grandfather William (Billy) Merz, 14 miles north of Seneca, Nebraska.  He spent the first six years of his life following his dad, his Uncle Lou Merz, and several hired men around the ranch. The only other children close by to play with were his cousins, Larry and Dorothy (Dottie) Merz, who lived about a mile away. At age six, he started riding horseback to Rose Valley School District 152, a small country school about two miles west of the ranch.

Jerry also attended several years of grade school in Seneca, while staying with his Grandmother Anspach, but always spent his summers at the ranch. He attended school in Mullen, Nebraska, from eighth grade through high school, graduating from Mullen High School in 1952. He was enrolled in Chadron State College for one year, ad returned to the ranch working for his dad and neighboring ranches.

Jerry was drafted into the U.S. Army on January 4, 1955, completing basic training at Fort Ord, California.  He was sent to Fort Lee, Virginia, for supply school training, and from there, to an artillery company in Chicago only 26 blocks from the “loop” (downtown) on the shore of Lake Michigan. He was honorably discharged in December 1956.

In the summer of 1956, Jerry met JoEllis Irene Sears, at an outdoor dance hall at Halsey, Nebraska. They remained in touch via letters while he was in the Army, and he proposed to her in January 1959. They were married May 31, 1959, in Valentine, Nebraska, and spent their life together building a Red Angus cow herd, buying Wendell’s portion of the Merz ranch, building their own home, and raising four children, Kimberly, Holly, Tracy, and Bill.

Jerry was a true family man, taking the time to teach his children and grandchildren many important lifelong skills. While his grandkids were growing up, he spent time with each of their hobbies, whether it was cowboying, fishing, working on cars, welding, or watching high school sports. He was a wonderful neighbor, always willing to lend a helping hand. He was known for his kindness toward all animals, including numerous granddogs. He rarely hired anyone for repairs or labor, always saying “why would I pay someone to do something I can do myself?” Many of his projects included unusual components, therefore, his kids developed the term “Jerry-rigging.”

In later years, Jerry enjoyed photography, poetry, bird watching, old western shows and movies, and visiting with friends and neighbors. He enjoyed the history of the land and sharing stories with others.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 59 years, JoEllis; daughters, Kimberly Ann Sexton, of Aurora, Colorado,  Holly Sue Blauvelt (Vaughn), Thedford, Nebraska, Tracy Leigh Merz, Seneca, and son William Daniel Merz (Kevin Roberts), Scottsdale, Arizona; grandchildren Tyrell (Adrienne) Blauvelt, Mission, Texas, Riley Blauvelt and Kelsey McCune, Kearney, Missouri, and Catlin (Dannielle) Blauvelt, Folsom, California; great-grandchildren, Tristan and Olivia Blauvelt of Mission, Texas; sisters, Karen Moser, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Georgia Merz, Mesa, Arizona; and many, many special nieces, nephews, cousins, sisters- and brothers-in-law. He is proceeded in death by his parents, Wendell and Margie Merz.  

To order memorial trees in memory of Jerry Lee Merz, please visit our tree store.


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