Merton “Mert” Arntzen died peacefully in his sleep on August 17, 2021. Mert was born on May 14, 1935, to Erling and Emily (Sivertsen) Arntzen in Escanaba, Michigan. Mert had a very happy childhood in the Upper Peninsula. He had a group of neighborhood kids that did everything together. They happily roamed around Escanaba to Gladstone, enjoying their companionship and shared adventures. They would often go to the cottage on Mehl Lake with Mert’s Uncle Slim and Aunt Nin. He loved the outdoors, and his happiest times were spent waterskiing and boating. He loved to be on his sailboat, where he would lose himself on the lake for hours.
Mert graduated from Escanaba High School in 1953. He enjoyed working for his dad’s construction company in Escanaba. He was driving dump trucks at the age of 14 and doing construction work. There he developed his desire to have a career involving building and construction. He went on to Michigan Tech in 1957, and earned degrees in Civil Engineering and Business Administration. After graduation, he went to work for Bethlehem Steel in Chicago. Next he worked in Wisconsin Wire and Steel in Brookfield, Wisconsin. He often travelled for work to Appleton to cover the Fox Valley and Green Bay areas.
Later, he changed companies and went to Green Bay Structural Steel. It was there that he met the love of his life, Faith (Eckstein), in 1961. Faith was the manager of the Green Bay Builders Exchange. They married in October, 1962. In 1965 Mert and Faith moved to Neenah, where they spent many happy years. Mert then helped form a rebar company in Neenah, which became Northern Contractors Supply. Eventually the company merged into 4X Corp. In 1984, he and his longtime friend and business partner, Tom Wintheiser, bought a rebar plant in Oshkosh, which started Viking Steel. He worked there until his retirement in 1996.
Mert and Faith were devoted foster parents to many children through the years. They welcomed their only child, Amy, in 1967. Mert loved family life, and was a dedicated member of Neenah Rotary. He served as president, and was part of the exchange student program for many years. He was honored to receive the Paul Harris Fellowship award in recognition of his many contributions.
In 1967, Mert and Faith purchased the cottage on Mehl Lake from his aunt and uncle. The cottage was truly their happy place. There they spent every summer and many weekends in the winter. Many nieces and nephews enjoyed time at the cottage. Countless Rotary Exchange students learned how to waterski, kneeboard, sail, and canoe under Mert and Faith’s fun attention.
Their other happy place was Lake Havasu City, Arizona. After retiring, they bought a condo in 2000 and spent the next fifteen winters with other “snow birds.” They loved to go cruising on Lake Havasu, dining at the Desert Bar, and socializing in the courtyard with their friends and neighbors.
By far, Mert’s greatest joy was his family. Luis Asibinac was welcomed into the family when he married Amy in 1994. They gave Mert and Faith two wonderful grandchildren, Sofie (2007) and Lucas (2009). Together, the proud grandparents shared with the kids their love for the outdoors and time spent at the cottage. They embraced everything in the kids’ soccer culture. When they moved to Green Bay in 2015, they spent many summer evenings going to games and enthusiastically cheering them on.
With Faith at his side, Mert loved to travel. They had many fun adventures together, including trips to Hawaii, Alaska, Guatemala, and Scandinavia. Mert was proud to be a Norwegian!
In 2018 Mert discovered his passion for wood turning. He lovingly crafted beautiful bowls, pens, and wine stoppers. He spent many happy hours fiddling in his workshop. He taught the kids how to use the lathe, and was thrilled to pass on his passion and skill to them. The kids treasure the hours they spent together working with wood.
Mert and Faith’s last move together was to Brookview Meadows in Howard. There, they made many friends and enjoyed church services together. He enjoyed his time as Ambassador for new residents. Mert was a devoted husband and caretaker for his wife in her final years.
Mert was a man of great faith. He did not preach it, but he lived it. He had a moral compass that he lived by, and it served him well. Mert loved his wife and family beyond measure. He set a wonderful example by which to live life, and he and his character were something to aspire to.
He is survived by his loving daughter Amy (Asibinac), son-in-law Luis, grandchildren Sofie and Lucas, and beloved sister Gloria (Arntzen) Hofer of Hendersonville, NC, and several nieces and nephews. He surrounded himself with many special longtime friends, including Tom Wintheiser, Ron Blickhahn, Ron Harder, George and Marie Peterson, as well as many Mehl Lake and Little Lake families. He was preceded in death by his parents Erling and Emily Arntzen, and his adored wife Faith.
Funeral services will be in Green Bay at Malcore West Funeral Home, 1530 W Mason Street, on September 7, 2021. Visitation will be from 9 to 11 AM, with funeral to follow.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund for Samaritan’s Purse has been established.