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Published February 02, 2013, 12:00 AM

Lt. Col. Ret. Roger “Joe” Merte

Lt. Col. Ret. Roger “Joe” Mertes 63, of Detroit Lakes, Minn. passed away at his lake home on Lake Melissa January 28, 2013. Roger was born August 20, 1949, the son of Theodore and Esther (Puetz) Mertes in Fargo, North Dakota. Roger graduated in 1967 from West Anchorage High School in Alaska and enrolled at North Dakota State University. While at NDSU he participated in the ROTC program and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Roger was commissioned a second lieutenant in the USAF upon graduation from NDSU and went on to earn his Master's degree at UND.

Following his father's footsteps, Roger aspired to become a pilot. He traveled to Big Spring, TX to attend pilot training. Not long into his military career, Roger, now known as "Rosebud”, got behind the controls of a B-52 Bomber. The B-52 was the last plane he flew and the plane that started his legacy. By the end of the career, his office space increased as he moved from the cockpit of a plane to an office with a desk. Roger spent his last years in the USAF as a squadron commander in Minot, ND leading 500 men and women through the Gulf War.

Lt. Col. Ret. Roger “Joe” Merte

Lt. Col. Ret. Roger “Joe” Mertes 63, of Detroit Lakes, Minn. passed away at his lake home on Lake Melissa January 28, 2013. Roger was born August 20, 1949, the son of Theodore and Esther (Puetz) Mertes in Fargo, North Dakota. Roger graduated in 1967 from West Anchorage High School in Alaska and enrolled at North Dakota State University. While at NDSU he participated in the ROTC program and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Roger was commissioned a second lieutenant in the USAF upon graduation from NDSU and went on to earn his Master's degree at UND.

Following his father's footsteps, Roger aspired to become a pilot. He traveled to Big Spring, TX to attend pilot training. Not long into his military career, Roger, now known as "Rosebud”, got behind the controls of a B-52 Bomber. The B-52 was the last plane he flew and the plane that started his legacy. By the end of the career, his office space increased as he moved from the cockpit of a plane to an office with a desk. Roger spent his last years in the USAF as a squadron commander in Minot, ND leading 500 men and women through the Gulf War.

Roger purchased a small cabin on Lake Melissa in 1974. Years later, when he retired from the USAF, he built his dream lake home, complete with a bar, and a large garage for his tools. He also planted his favorite species of trees to block out the wind and “riff-raff.” Roger always welcomed family and friends to his lake home and enjoyed watching generations of neighborhood children grow up on the beach. He befriended every colorful bird (except woodpeckers) that came onto his property in search of a wide variety of seeds and fruit. When he wasn't tending to the trees or the birds he could be found in his favorite chair watching "the best sport ever" - golf.

Roger is survived by his mother, Esther; four children, Jacob, Joy (Mitch) Smith, Jordan, Molly, and granddaughter Lucy; three sisters Jo, Jane (Mark) Priebe, Lt. Col. Ret. Amy (Mark) Bishop and a brother, John; nieces Sybil Priebe, Alisa Priebe and Robin (Nick) Christianson and great-niece Audrey; nephews Devin (Amy) Mertes and great-nephew Gavin, Jed (Hilary) Priebe, and Brent and Shawn Bishop. Roger was looking forward to meeting two new great-nephews this spring.

He was preceded in death by many family members, but none as loved as his father and hero, Lt. Col. Ret. Theodore Mertes.

Roger will be laid to rest during the summer of 2013 with military honors.

"Kiai O Ka Lewa"

Arrangements have been entrusted to the West-Kjos Funeral Home of Detroit Lakes.

Those wanting to share memories and condolences may use the guestbook section at (www.westkjos.com).

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