Jacob Theodore Mertes passed away August 7, 2021, at the age of 42.
Jake, as he was known to family and friends, was born November 2, 1978, at Grand Forks Air Force Base where his parents were stationed. He spent the majority of his life in the Midwest, living in Nebraska, North Dakota and Minnesota.
During his youth, he developed a passion for herpetology, folk music, literature, and poetry. By the age of 13 he could recite Shakespeare and Poe by heart!
Jake attended Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, Nebraska. He served two years in the U.S. Navy. In 2008, Jake began studying biology at Valley City State University in North Dakota. He was a leader inside and outside the classroom. He was respected by his professors and was considered a mentor by many classmates. Jake graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a minor in earth and environmental sciences.
In 2013 Jake along with his dog, Major, moved to Libby, Montana. Here he worked as an emergency medical technician for the local volunteer ambulance service; he was a much-loved substitute teacher; and ultimately, he began working for the Lincoln County government as an environmental health and planning specialist, a job he held until his death. The Libby, Montana community benefited from his commitment to service and professionalism.
In 2016 Jake met Dr. Sara Huddleston, a family medicine practitioner in Libby. In 2018 they were married in Ireland. Jake and Sara loved the outdoors and traveling. Almost every weekend, they backpacked, swam, hiked, biked, climbed, snowshoed, or skied and generally explored the world together. Jake and Sara went on more adventures in their short time together than most people do in a lifetime!
Jake was a connoisseur of laughter, fine cigars, and whiskey. Many would describe him as a grown-up child. He adored kids and taught many children to appreciate the outdoors. He also loved sharing his knowledge and passion for herpetology with those around him, but with no one more than his niece, Lucy, a 9-year-old herpetologist prodigy.
Jake was preceded in death by his father, Roger Joseph Mertes; grandfather, Theodore Mertes; uncle, John Mertes and grandparents, Leo and Joy Bilodeau. Jacob's beloved wife, Sara and his stepfather, Dr. James Edney tragically died in the same plane accident.
Jake is survived by his mother, Deborah L. Bilodeau Edney; sisters, Joy Mertes-Smith (Dan Leland) and Molly; brother, Jordan; stepsiblings, Michael (Andrea) Edney, Christine (Collin) Johnson and Daniel (Tiffany) Edney; grandmother, Esther Mertes and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins in the Mertes, Priebe, Edney and Schweitz families.
Jake will be missed for his wry sense of humor, his endless pranks, his great laugh, his big smile, and his love for friends and family. But he will be missed for his big heart most of all!
In lieu of flowers, memorial donated contributions will be used to aid local Libby, Montana organizations that support the couple's passion for the outdoors and for healthcare.
A Memorial Service will be held in Alexandria. Minnesota at 11 AM on Friday, September 17, 2021, at Anderson’s Funeral Home, 659 Voyager Dr., Alexandria, MN 56308.
The service will be live streamed on Jacob's memorial page on the Anderson Funeral Home website.
A visitation will take place one hour prior to the service at the funeral home on Friday.
Interment will be in St. Nicholas Catholic Cemetery in Belle River, MN.
A celebration of life will be held in Libby at 4 p.m., Oct. 1 at River Bend Restaurant.