John DeWitt Mersereau
July 14, 1930-April 19, 2014
John was born and raised on the Mersereau Farm in Rantoul, Illinois, the third of four children to Rex and Margaret (DeWitt) Mersereau. During the summer working at a resort at Lake Michigan, he met Joanna Hayes. After they graduated Blackburn College, and before completing his degrees in Chemistry and Agronomy at the University of Illinois, they married in 1950 having received written permission from his parents since he was under 21. Though he served in the Air Force Reserves as a meteorologist for 2 years, he always wanted to be a farmer.
Daughters Beth and Juanita were born before they moved to California in 1955 where John began work in the Horticultural Department at the University of California in Riverside. Son Guy was born in 1958. John then worked in Air Pollution Research and Control for the County of Riverside for 13 years. Later, he operated a nursery and landscape business for a short time. Then he joined the Toro Company as Field Test Supervisor for the West Coast for proto-type equipment, retiring at age 65.
The family was very involved in the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Riverside. John served as a Deacon, Elder, leader of youth groups and the choir. He played French horn for the Riverside Philharmonic and later the Redlands Symphony Orchestra. John was a mentor and counselor with Explorer Scouts and the Riverside Youth Center. He later became involved with the Church of the Celebration and led therapy and encounter groups for youth and adults.
In 1975, his marriage to Joanna ended, though their friendship continued for the rest of his life.
In 1980, he found the love of his life, and married Mary. They shared 34 years together. Their lives were full of adventure, gardening, volunteering, traveling and sporting events. In 2002, they moved from Riverside to Redlands. He loved spending time with family and enjoyed many kayak trips down the San Juan River and cheering on his children and grandchildren at all of their events. His second love was gardening. He never met a shovel he didn't like, and Family Service Association in Redlands benefited from the bounty.
John cared deeply about helping people and volunteered for Hospice for Loma Linda University Medical Center (to which he donated his body for research) and then at Redlands Community Hospital. He and Mary delivered for Meals on Wheels for seven years. Everyone he met enjoyed his humor, compassion and hugs. He was a happy and passionate person who lived with grace, acceptance and unconditional love.
As he passed, he was surrounded by his family representing all those who loved him best. He is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Beth Sanders (Jerry) of Redlands, daughter Juanita Mersereau of Prescott, Arizona, son Guy Mersereau (Lisa) of Riverside, and step-daughter Beverlee Morse (Stan) of Laguna, and former wife Joanna Mersereau of Redlands. Grandchildren include Will Sanders (Andrea), Katie McGann (David), Lita Byerly (Bill Mulkey), Kea Graham (Patrick), Joel Steiger, Drew Mersereau and Molly Mersereau. Great- grandchildren are Joseph Sanders, Victoria and Jameson McGann and Wyatt Mulkey.
A Celebration will be held at 4:00 pm, Sunday, May 11, 2014 at Edward's Mansion, 2064 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands. Those attending are invited to wear bright colors. The family welcomes antidotes and memories to share at JohnMersereauMemories@gmail.com and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/johnmerseraumemories
. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Meals on Wheels, P.O. Box 929 Redlands, CA 92373 are appreciated.