WASECA — Former Waseca County Sheriff Merton “Mert” Victor Schwarz died Oct. 8. He was 100 years old.

Mert was born on Nov. 7, 1918, in Pleasant Mound Township, Blue Earth County, Minnesota. He attended school in St. Clair growing up on a farm.

He grew up around horses, which he loved, before he worked at creameries around southern Minnesota and eventually joining the U.S. Army in 1941. He became an Army Ranger in the 27th Division and was part of three Pacific invasions: Tinian, Saipan and Okinawa before returning home.

Mert came home to Elaine Peterson, who he married one month after he returned in 1945. They were married for 70 years before she died in 2016.

Elaine got a job as a teacher in Waseca and so they moved to the Wilton Farm outside of town where they raised a family.

Mert was a car salesman before he started working as a policeman in 1961 and when Don Eustice became sheriff in 1967, Mert was selected as his chief deputy.

After the fatal day that Sheriff Eustice went to serve commitment papers, with Mert, and he was met with a shotgun blast, killing him, Mert became sheriff in 1976. He was elected sheriff when the term came up and stayed as sheriff until 1983 when he retired at 65 years old.

Mert enjoyed many things in life.

He was a horse lover and was able to ride down the Continential Divide, which took eight summers. He rode across Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. He also was able to give buggy rides to residents in Waseca County and was a Plug Horse Derby racer.

Along horses Mert had a passion for volunteering and was a volunteer at Farmamerica a Hartley Elementary school.

During his 100 birthday celebration his family shared stories of him working on the farm after he retired and he was well into his 90s and he was able to live on the farm until he was 90.

Mert moved to Laytham Place in Waseca after an injury called for him to move off the Farm, at the time his wife Elaine was next door at Lakeshore Inn Nursing home. He eventually moved there as well and is where he resided until his death.

His remains were escorted from Lakeshore Inn Nursing home by members of the Waseca County Sheriff's Department, Waseca Police Department and Waseca Fire Department to Dennis Funeral home. 

He is survived by his three children, six grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, one brother and numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his wife Elaine, his parents, two brothers and one sister.

Funeral services were held on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Dennis Funeral home with a procession including members of the Waseca VFW, American Legion, Sheriff’s Department, family and many others paying tribute.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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