Deon Jean Mertz peacefully passed away on January 1, 2020, at the Mercy Hospice House in Durango. She was 92. Funeral Services will be held at The Summit Church (First United Methodist), 2917 Aspen Drive, Durango, Colorado at 11:00 am on Saturday, January 11, 2020.
Deon was born to Carl and Leona Eklund on May 4, 1927 in Lyndon, Kansas. She grew up in Lyndon and Borger, Texas, graduating from Phillips High School in Texas in 1945. It was in the high plains town of Borger, Texas that she met the everlasting love of her life, Clyde Mertz. Clyde was a young research chemist working for an energy company. He successfully courted and married Deon in 1946. With Deon by his side, he obtained patents on many inventions and technical innovations during his career.
They had two boys in Texas followed by two more after a corporate transfer to Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1953. There they lived until retirement in 1981. Those were busy years filled with raising children and working punctuated by summer vacations out west.
After retirement, they began a new adventure, moving to Durango and building a home on Florida Mesa. On fifteen acres, they set about building an oasis with the use of irrigation water and hard work. Soon, a fine handcrafted house rose above the sagebrush and pinon trees. After the house, came the gardens. Some said gardening on the Mesa was too hard - not worth the effort. Clyde and Deon proved them wrong.
Despite the daily visits by voracious Mule Deer, enormous crops of vegetables and flowers were harvested from spring through fall. Not long after there was an orchard in full bloom. Once when surveying a patio covered with overflowing buckets of harvested fruit, Deon wryly observed, "plums do really well on the mesa, don't they." Much of her produce was incorporated into her cooking and baking. She will always be remembered for her exquisite dishes, which she was eager to share with family and friends.
Deon's involvement in community religious and charitable efforts was deep and long-lasting. She was a member of the First United Methodist Church (now The Summit Church) where she energetically supported the Church's many charitable programs and goals. For thirty years or more she was a member of the Garden Club, becoming President of the club for a time. In 2006 she received the state award of honor from the Colorado Federation of Garden Clubs for her contributions to beautifying the Durango community. Deon was an active member of PEO in Durango. She had been a PEO member since 1966 including a term as president of her chapter. This philanthropic educational organization for women provides scholarships and educational support for women.
When her beloved Clyde died in 2009, many thought Deon would have to move to a smaller place in town. Instead, she stayed out on the mesa - and thrived there. She continued to garden, cook, attend church and social events, and entertain family and friends. Right to the end, she declined to leave her home - the place where she had so many great years full of love and joy.
Much of the reason she was able to stay at her home was the incredible network of neighbors, friends and her doctor, living near her or in the town of Durango. The efforts these people made to support her was important in making her last years all good years - for which Deon and her family are eternally grateful.
She will be lovingly remembered by her children, Thomas (Janet), Richard (Robin), Charles (Paula), and Daniel (Theresa). She will also be remembered by her six grandchildren, Alison, Charles (Andrea), Dana (Kenneth), Molly (Tony), Nathanael and Warren; four great-grandchildren; and, by her sister Doris (David) Calder. She was predeceased by her husband Clyde, sister Margaret (Wayne) Prentice, and her grandson Thomas Coulter Mertz.
Deon loved all of life as she loved all of the seasons of the year. But above all she loved the summer - the irrigation ditches brimming with water that began as melting snow in the high San Juans; the garden bursting with new life followed by the harvest. Then there were the storms, great towering cumulus clouds building to twenty thousand feet or higher over the La Plata Range followed by sudden life-giving downpours in the afternoon. Afterward, there were indescribably beautiful sunsets that seemingly lasted for hours.
She is now a part of these mountains and sky forever.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Deon's name to First United Methodist Church, 2917 Aspen Drive, Durango, Colorado.
Published in The Durango Herald on Jan. 8, 2020.