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Merle Lester Pitz, 72

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Merle Lester Pitz, age 72 of Elma, died Thursday, April 25, 2024, at his home surrounded by his family.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Elma with the Rev. Nick Radloff celebrating the Mass.

Interment will be held in Calvary Cemetery, Elma.

Friends may greet the family from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory in Elma, where there will be a 7 p.m. Scripture Service. Visitation continues an hour prior to the Mass at the church on Wednesday.

Merle Lester Pitz, known affectionately as Merle to his friends and loved ones, passed away on April 25, 2024, at the age of 72, surrounded by his loved ones. Born on Oct. 4, 1951, in Charles City, the son of Dennis and Phyllis (Marvin) Pitz, Merle was a man whose laughter and industrious spirit filled the lives of those around him with joy and inspiration.

Merle’s early years took his journey through the halls of Cresco High School, where he graduated in 1970. Fate intervened one evening when he stopped for a cocktail and met the love of his life, Patricia Heying, whom he commonly referred to as “Poopsie.” The couple married at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Elma on June 1, 1974. Their loving union blessed them with three wonderful children — David, Jennifer, and Ryan. The Pitz family initially made their home on a farm south of Elma and later moved into town in 1978, embracing the charm and camaraderie of small-town life.

Merle dedicated his professional life to the road as a truck driver. He began his career with Croell Redi-Mix, transporting cement powder throughout the Midwest. His passion for the open road led him to become an owner/operator of his own truck, a role he cherished for 38 years. His truck was a reflection of his pride and meticulous nature, and he expected the same level of respect for it from those who used it.

In his youth, Merle had a wild streak, channeling his energy into tinkering, racing, and occasionally wrecking anything with an engine. However, as he matured, his interests evolved into more serene activities such as hunting, fishing, golfing, and camping with his family. He was a man who could glide across the dance floor, enjoy the melodies of music, and engage in spirited card games with family and friends.

Merle’s playful spirit never waned. He remained a child at heart, delighting in being silly with his grandchildren and executing pranks with the skill of a seasoned trickster. His hands were rarely idle, and he was known for his exceptional ability to fix nearly anything. The Pitz residence was recognizable by the open garage doors, revealing Merle’s latest project. His philosophy was one of constant motion, always needing to be busy with something.

Above all, Merle valued family. It was his compass, his unwavering priority. He was the one his family called upon in times of need, and without hesitation, he would be there, offering his support, guidance, and the warmth of his presence. Family was his everything, and he ensured that they knew it through his actions and commitment.

To describe Merle is to speak of a man who was incredibly handy, spirited, and funny. His legacy is etched in the memories of those who knew him—memories of laughter, shared adventures, and countless acts of kindness. Merle’s passing leaves a void in the community of Elma and in the hearts of his beloved family and friends.

Merle is survived by his wife, Patricia Pitz of Elma; two sons, David (Kristen) Pitz of Ionia,  and Ryan (Allison Lehnen) Pitz of Waterloo; one daughter, Jennifer (Troy) Smith of Elma; six grandchildren, Ashton Pitz, Lux Smith, Tatum Smith, Brennen Pitz, Layton Pitz and Finnley Pitz; one sister, Ronda (Gordy) Tufte of Dumont; and one sister-in-law, Julie Pitz of Decorah.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his in-laws, one granddaughter, Zoey Pitz; and one brother, Roger Pitz.

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