Our mother, Waltraut Johanna Seidel Mertens, age 96, was born on May 15, 1924 in Berlin, Germany to Otto Bernhard Seidel and Auguste Langner. On March, 28, she fell and fractured
her femur and spent seven weeks between the hospital and a rehabilitation center. In that time, she tested positive for the Coronavirus. On May 16 at 9:30 am, just one day after her 96th
birthday, she passed away due to complications from the injury and surgery which were exacerbated by COVID-19 with two of her children present in the ICU.
At the age of 15 in 1939, her father—a violin, viola, and guitar maker—died before the outbreak of World War II. Waltraut, her sister Erika, and her mother lived through WWII, including the Berlin Bombings and all the difficult times after the War. She was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and with the sponsorship of a local Salt Lake company, Stover Bedding and Upholstery, Waltraut, her sister, mother, and nephew Peter emigrated by ship to the United States and arrived in Salt Lake City in February of 1952. At the Stover Upholstery company, she met her husband Gerhard K.W. Mertens, who was from a small-town near Hamburg in Germany. They married in 1957 in Elko, Nevada. They had five children until his untimely death in March 1966 from brain cancer. They were sealed in the Salt Lake City Temple in 1967.
As a single mother she supported her family by working several jobs, often at the same time. She retired in 1990 at the University of Utah. Throughout their lives, Waltraut encouraged her
children to pursue various interests including soccer, instrumental music, and scouting. In the summer of ’73, Waltraut saved enough to purchase a sailboat and the family learned to sail,
which became a great love of hers and led to summer weekends spent on Bear Lake and the Great Salt Lake. Waltraut worked tirelessly to help her children succeed in academics and all
five eventually earned college degrees.
In the early 80s, she discovered the University of Utah Gymnastics team and became a lifelong fan. She also loved to sing and had a lovely mezzo-soprano voice. She participated in choirs in Germany and in German choirs in Salt Lake City. Waltraut loved being a grandmother and found great joy in her 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She took pride in sharing stories and traditions from Germany and hosting her grandchildren for Christmas Eve. Through her trials, Waltraut was a strong, resilient woman who exemplified a stalwart work ethic and valued family above all else. We have learned from her lifetime of sacrifice and love and are grateful for the life she led and the opportunities she created for us and our children.
Proceeded in death by her husband, parents, and sister. Survived by her five children, Robert, Thomas (Debbie), Gordon (Julie), Monica Harrison (Kyle), and James (Leah), 15 grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and nephew Peter Rabe. There will be a graveside service at Elysian Gardens in Murray on Wednesday, May 20 at 2:30 pm.
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