My grandfather, Jim Mertz, fought in the Second World War. He was an officer in the Navy: he commanded the USS Sturtevant, a destroyer escort. I’ve been privileged to meet some of the men who served under him. They credit him with keeping them safe through the war, with returning them to their lives and loved ones.
My grandfather’s quiet and commanding presence has always been apparent to me. So when I first saw this picture just a few years ago, I immediately fell in love with it for just that quality. (He’s also very handsome. No wonder my grandmother fell in love with him!) It’s actually the only picture I have of him from those war years, or as a young man.
Happily, he’s still doing well at the age of 93. He ran a successful slate business well into his 80s. He still sails the Newport Bermuda Race every other year. We even e-mail on occasion. He’s quite a remarkable man.
Officially, Jim Mertz is my step-grandfather: he married my grandmother (Allegra Knapp) when my father was two years old. Since I never met my official grandfather (Jim Brickell), all that means is that I’m not fortunate enough to have my grandfather’s long-lived genes.
As you might have guessed, Jim Mertz is the source of my middle name. And given the source, I’m proud to wear it.