Benjamin Lee Mertlich
With deepest sorrow, we announce the unexpected passing of our beloved son, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend Benjamin Lee Mertlich. We lost Ben in a tragic accident on his prized Harley Davidson motorcycle early Sunday morning, September 12, 2021. Ben was only 36 years young but lived a very full, happy, and adventurous life. He lived every day with passion and purpose, and those who knew him know how big of a heart he had.
Ben was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 24, 1984 to Dale and Sue Mertlich. He joined his older siblings and became the baby of the family as well as the favorite child. He grew up an 80s kid who loved playing outside, watching Saturday morning cartoons, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His red hair was his most prized feature and went through many phases--yes, even the mullet and the bowl cut. He had a full social life throughout school and went on many fun trips with his family.
Just after high school Ben's friend Nick Widdison started an online after market automobile performance company, Rally Sport Direct, and Ben was the first employee--two guys working out of a garage for years before they grew it to be a very successful business. During that time Ben was able to develop many management and business skills, however, "work" for him was always a fun challenge and running a massive business came naturally. When the business sold years later to Aftermarket Performance Group (APG), Ben stayed on and quickly excelled within the ranks and held many roles but most recently held the title of Director of Portfolio Management for APG.
Ben attended the University of Utah while helping to build that business and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, sitting next to Kirill Chernyavskiy at graduation, passing back and forth a flask as an early celebration. As a bright young man, he challenged himself with obtaining a Master's degree in Business (MBA), and was on track to Graduate in early 2022. He was extremely successful in his career and schooling, yet even more successful in his personal life.
Starting at a young age, Ben loved sports and cars. He attended many games with his family and stayed after the games to get autographs from those he idolized. Ben was a massive sports fan and loved the Raiders, the Oakland A's, and always had a special love for his first favorite and Alma Mater, the Utes. As a Raiders season ticket holder, he was looking forward to attending the first games at the new stadium in Las Vegas. Even though he never got to experience that, he still enjoyed watching the games and even got to see an away game with his beloved Uncle Steve in St. Louis. "Roll with it!"
Ben had many passions in life, but all of them revolved around new experiences and people that he loved. He loved sports, cars, motorcycles, and adventure. His endeavors all had a common theme—People. Because, at the end of the day, Ben was such a people person! As part of his automotive obsession he built, enjoyed, blew up, fixed, and raced many vehicles, because it's a passion that was inherited from and shared with his father. Ben's interest in vehicles is what led him to a successful career, and a long list of close friends that he made all around the world.
Ben loved to travel and experience different cultures from around the world. He visited Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Caribbean, and many other areas of the United States. He absolutely loved visiting local restaurants and finding new drinks at local "watering holes" with his current friends and making new ones. He loved supporting his many friends and their business endeavors and was always there to lend a helping hand or ideas on how they could be successful. At the end of the day, he wanted nothing more than to support and bring people up to be better versions of themselves.
Ben was excellent at making friends and had a disarming smile that left no doubt that he loved you. He quickly made connections and worked hard at getting what he wanted in life. He had tremendous momentum and had accomplished so many of his goals early in life and had made many more plans for the future. His prized personal possessions were never "personal" as he was always willing to let those close to him enjoy them as much as he did, because as Ben would say, "It ain't fun if homies ain't getting some." However, his true prized possessions were clearly his friends and family and we will never be the same because of Ben's love and influence in our lives. If you knew him, you also experienced one of his amazing Dixxon-branded, flannel-wrapped bear hugs.
He was always wearing a smile, baseball cap, jeans and a t-shirt with a Dixxon flannel and was always willing to lend his ear and time. Ben always had a big bear hug ready to go and always had a quick-witted comment ready to be fired off if you were not on your A game! Ben lived his life to the absolute fullest and always made sure to light up a room when he walked in.
Ben is survived by his loving parents, Dale and Sue (Evans) Mertlich, his siblings Jason (Shar) Mertlich, Tamra (Justin) Maycock, Jennie (Alan) Schow, and Katie (Kurt) Skillin. His many nieces and nephews are also missing Ben immensely. They knew him best as their hilarious and oftentimes slightly-inappropriate "Uncle Butt." Ben had as many friends as there are stars in the sky and although we can't personally name you all, we love and appreciate how much you meant to Ben. Kirill Chernyavskiy, Steve Pullin, and Matt Jakeman were his brothers from another "Ma." We are so grateful for the impact they had on Ben's life and the good times they shared with him. We hope you all know that any friend of Ben's is now family to us. (You don't have a choice.)
Ben often said, "Anything Ma wants, Ma gets." There were three things he couldn't do: First was to spend his birthday with his Ma. He was busy spending it with his chosen, more lively side of the family--his dear friends who also shared birthdays right around his. Second was to miss a tribute celebration for a lost friend or a quick stop at a family event, even if it was just for a few minutes. Third was to stay here with us, which is Ma's greatest wish. He was planning an amazing tattoo in honor of his father, but never got to do it. Ben and his father had a special bond and he would always speak fondly of Dale as a huge inspiration and driving force behind his success.
I don't know how we will all go on without Ben. I guess "We'll figure it out" and just "Embrace the Suck". We love you more than you can ever know. We will leave you all with his most prized piece of advice that he freely offered whenever possible: "You can't unlick a butthole." Love you, Uncle Butt.
A celebration of Ben's life will be held on Sunday, September 26th from 1:00-6:00pm at The Black Lion Event Center at 9854 S. 700 E. in Sandy, Utah. Casual attire and flannel strongly encouraged.
Online condolences can be shared at www.jenkins-soffe.com
Published by Deseret News from Sep. 15 to Sep. 17, 2021.