Leola “Jeanne” (Kueny) Mertz was born November 7, 1929, in Kansas City, Kansas, and grew up in the town of Oskaloosa. She passed away January 13, 2017, at her farm home east of Manhattan, Kansas. Jeanne was the daughter of Ted W. and Agnes J. (Pennington) Kueny.
Jeanne met Harold D. Mertz while attending Kansas State University. They married June 18, 1950, and operated River Creek Farms in the Zeandale area.
Jeanne was a strong advocate for agriculture throughout her life. She and Harold were named Master Farmer/Master Homemaker in 1987 by Kansas State Research and Extension. Jeanne served as President of Kansas Agri-Women, and the national President for the American Agri-Women organization, also receiving the esteemed Leaven Award in 1982.
Jeanne was an idea person who valued the importance of service – a trait she instilled within her children and recognized by others. She was an excellent writer and editor. Her organizational skills were evidenced by the numerous projects she planned and executed within her community and in the agricultural industry.
Many are familiar with Jeanne’s sign project – an idea she proposed in the late 70s. The grocery sack sign, featured on the Kansas Farmer-Stockman in 1980, continues to be a prominent fixture along Kansas highways. In 2015, Jeanne received the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award from the Kansas State Grange for her initiation of the Kansas Agri-Women Grocery Sack Signs to promote farm commodities and produce.
Those who knew Jeanne well would attest to her wittiness, her frankness, and her genuine interest in all that affected the people she loved. An avid reader, a book was always found on the table next to her chair. Jeanne’s dog, Lady, could also always be found beside her.
Jeanne’s legacy is her family as it was first and foremost in her life. She had walls of family pictures throughout the home and dedicated many years to creating notebooks of family photographs and writing her memoirs. Jeanne’s words of advice to her grandchildren best exemplify her tenacity: Be your own person and stand up for what you believe; set some goals and do your best to accomplish them; and finally, don’t be afraid to try—not everything that is worthwhile comes easy.
Survivors include her children: Joe Mertz (Kim), Tom Mertz (Donna), Bob Mertz (Mary), Jane Garcia (Bob), and Jon Mertz; eleven grandchildren: Brent Mertz, Asher Mertz (Shina), Lincoln Mertz, Malia Palenske (Daniel), Matthew Garcia, Lisa Berding (Greg), David Mertz, Grant Mertz, Abram Mertz (Dani), Adam Mertz, Alec Mertz, and two step-grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, and five step-great grandchildren. She is also survived by a sister, Agnes O’Neill (Richard), stepbrothers Bob Bullock and Paul Bullock (Marilyn), and many nieces and nephews. Harold, an infant daughter Cynthia, Jeanne’s parents, stepfather Harry Bullock, and a stepsister, Betty Bliss, preceded her in death.
The family will receive visitors from 5:30pm to 7:00pm on Friday, January 20, 2017, at the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan.
Jeanne was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian church. She held strongly to her faith in God. Memorial services will be held at 10:30 am, Saturday, January 21, 2017, at the First Presbyterian Church, 801 Leavenworth, Manhattan. Graveside services will be private.
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Memorials may be made care of the funeral home to Kansas Agri-Women, First Presbyterian Church of Manhattan or to the Meadowlark Parkinson’s Program (Manhattan).