WASECA, Minn. (KMSP) - Laughter filled Waseca’s Lake Shore Inn garden room Sunday during an early birthday celebration.
“It was a surprise and it’s pretty nice. I love it!” exclaimed former Waseca County Sheriff, Mert Schwarz, who turns 98 on Monday.
“I don’t believe it,” chuckled Shwarz with a wide smile.
Last month the Waseca County Sheriff’s office asked Facebook friends to give Shwarz a birthday blitz he wouldn’t forget. Generously, they showered him with cards and at least 30 were mailed in.
“He enjoys people a lot,” Ann Shwarz, Mert’s daughter, told FOX 9.
“There [are] a lot of them that I don’t know who they are,” said her father of the cards he opened.
“He was in the military, and fought in the wars, and then he was a deputy, a chief deputy, he was a sheriff, he was a part of our sheriff’s posse he got it structured when he was a deputy and he stayed on even when he was retired,” said Doug Gerdtf, a Waseca County Sheriff’s Deputy.
The posse, Gerdtf explains, allows unlicensed personnel to assist whenever the Sheriff’s department needs help for things like search and rescues, parades and more.
Mert does, however, have a reputation with the posse. One he blames on his mean lasso.
“There’s a young man that was stealing cars all across the United States and he was in Minnesota and he was in Waterville. I found out he was out of gas and drove the car into a cornfield. I went out looking for him on a horse and I found him. Put a rope on him and led him out of the cornfield,” Mert recounted proudly.
“One time a plane crashed in the cornfield and Mert deployed the posse and when the FAA showed up they said it was the best protected plane they’d ever seen,” laughed Gerdtf.
“Whether they were arrested by Mert or whatever contact they may have had with him they still talk about him and he’s been retired for 40 years,” Gerdtf smiled.
Since Mert last removed his Sheriff’s hat he has had several adventures.
“I’ve ridden the whole Continental Divide on horseback. It took six years two weeks at a time,” he nodded.
Mert also hopes to rope in a few more.
“Just never say woe in a horserace,” he laughed.
A nugget of wisdom Mert imparts before revealing he actually hopes he lives to be 100.
“As long as I’m here, might as well keep going,” Mert smiled.