Colonel John F. Mentzer, age 95, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin passed away on June 11, 2015 at Luther Hospital in Eau Claire after a short illness. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 8, 1919, the last surviving child and son of the late John Kurtz Mentzer and Mary Elsie McKenrick Mentzer. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 59 years, Florence Fennimore Anderson Mentzer. In addition to his wife, Florence, he was preceded in death by both his sisters, Margaret Leavitt and Ellen Ironside; brother-in-law, Roderick Ironside; sisters-in-law, Lillian Boyle, Eileen Meyer, and Dorothy Anderson.
He is survived by his two daughters, Jan Robinson (Robbie) of Wheeler, Wisconsin; Lynne McEvoy (Steven) of Raleigh, North Carolina; three grandchildren, Summer Robinson (Andrew Halbleib) of Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Jill Nash (Grant) of Boston, Massachusetts; and Andrea Mahar (Mark) of Apex, North Carolina; and one great-granddaughter, Brynn Mahar. He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, and two brothers-in-law.
Col. Mentzer grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Erasmus Hall High School and graduated from Pratt Institute of Science and Engineering in 1942 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He also met and married his wife, Florence, in Brooklyn.
Col. Mentzer's distinguished military career spanned 28 years between May, 1942 and July, 1970. During this period, he served through multiple combat tours in World War II (Pacific Theater-1943 to 1945); the Korean War (1950 to 1951); and the Vietnam War (1966 to 1967). He participated in the invasion and seizure of the island of Iwo Jima (March, 1945), the post-war occupancy of Japan (1945 to 1947), and the withdrawal of American troops from the Choisin Reservoir (Korea), where he served under Col. Chesty Puller. During his military career he received seventeen medals including the Purple Heart (Iwo Jima), the Gallantry Cross Medal (Vietnam), two Bronze Stars (Iwo Jima and Korea), and the Meritorious Service Medal (1967 through 1970). Col Mentzer ended his career serving as G-4 of the 3rd Marine Division in Phu Bai (Vietnam 1967), followed by serving as Assistant Base Commander, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C., before his retirement in July, 1970.
Never miss a local story.
After his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps, Col. Mentzer served the City of Raleigh, North Carolina Housing Authority for 12 years until he finally retired in 1982. He kept busy even in retirement and enjoyed watching his Raleigh granddaughters, Jill and Andrea, grow up. He built an extensive HO Model railroad layout, trains being another lifelong interest. He also enjoyed building miniature homes with his wife, Florence. He was the craftsman and she was the decorator. They built 5 main miniature homes, one for each of his daughters and one for each of his three granddaughters. He also loved building ship models. He wrote more than 20 books for his family on family history, the Marine Corps, and all of his remembrances.
Col Mentzer moved from Raleigh to Menomonie, Wisconsin in 2006 after his wife passed away to spend more time with his daughter, Jan and granddaughter, Summer. He was a life-long learner. He read extensively, listened to educational DVD’s which he purchased voraciously, enjoyed classical music and old movies, and was an expert on Marine history and the Civil War.
Col. John F. Mentzer and his beloved wife, Florence, will have their ashes buried together at the Bellevue Cemetery in Gap, Pennsylvania, alongside his parents’ grave. A family memorial service will be held there in the Fall.