“Pretty good for an old guy!”, “Goodie, goodie!” and “Woohoo!” are common phrases you may have heard John say in the last few years that he will be well remembered for. He lived 92 years of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5). He was an excellent example of what being a good human is: the hands and feet of Jesus.
John Lee Wertz was born in Logansport, IN on February 17, 1931. He lived with his parents and younger brother, Joe, both there and in Mishawaka, until he went to General Motors Institute in Flint, Michigan, for college. There he became a mechanical engineer and started his 42-year long career with the Allison division of General Motors where he designed helicopter turbines. It was in Flint where he met his future wife, Maxine Smith, when she attended dances at GMI with her friends and sister. John and Maxine married May 21, 1955.
John spent six months with the Air Force, completing basic training in Texas and then went to North Carolina to be a mechanic on aircrafts. The Air Force decided his skills were needed back home and he made it back just two weeks before their first child, Scott, was born.
The family moved to Indianapolis and never left. John and Maxine had two more children, Vicki and Tim, and in 1960 built a house on the west side of Indianapolis in Pike Township. During this busy time, they made time to be founding members of Messiah Lutheran Church and John was involved in Lions Club. For nine years, their three children kept John and Maxine busy until they grew even busier when Kristi came along. John retired the same year Kristi graduated from college in 1992.
John filled his days with philanthropy through several organizations including Sertoma of Broad Ripple, where he was named SertoMan of the Year in 2006; Alzheimer’s Association, where he had a term as President; Murat Shriners; Westside R/C Modelers; and church, where he served as an elder for many years. He also took trips with Maxine and friends, golfed, bowled, and tinkered with his 1976 Corvette. Time spent with grandchildren was boundless. He and Maxine provided a wonderful example of lasting true love and marriage.
As Maxine’s abilities declined from Alzheimer’s, he became a fabulous caretaker. She left this earth in 1999, and John was lost without her. Luckily, his life became full again after reconnecting with and marrying Jeanne Anne Collins. Again philanthropy, church, friends, travel and grandchildren filled their days along with wintering in Ft Myers, FL. They were heavily involved with Habitat for Humanity through St Luke’s church in Indianapolis with builds in Ft Myers. John and Jeanne Anne were both involved in so many good works and always put others first.
Again John became caretaker when Jeanne Anne declined mentally and physically.
After she passed in 2019, John worked to stay busy by attending Sertoma, exercising, helping others, being with family and attending church at The Garden, where he and Jeanne Anne were members.
A reflection on John’s life reveals the threads of words from Galatians 5 woven throughout, making him pretty awesome. He will be missed and never forgotten.
John was preceded in death by his parents Charlie and Eleanor, brother Joe, Maxine, Jeanne Anne and grandchildren Josh and Agatha. He is survived by son Scott (Mary), daughter Vicki Kennedy (William), son Tim (Nancy), daughter Kristi McAfee (Bill); grandchildren Alyssa, Brendan, Kyle, Neal, Zeno, Elly, Delaney, Kinsey and Brody; and great grandchildren Tyler, Kennedy and Anthony.