Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated the use of God’s gifts in outstanding public service. As a long-term care professional, John B. Merz has dedicated his life to impacting the care and treatment of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. His vision for improving the quality of life for individuals in need of memory care set the stage for major changes in philosophy and practice related to care and treatment, putting the needs of the patient first.

His extensive experience as an administrator of skilled nursing centers and as the founder, owner and operator of several assisted living and dementia care facilities, along with his personal experience as a caregiver himself, led to the creation and development of Memory Haven, with its innovative facility design and specialized, personal care services that meet the unique needs of those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

John B. Merz has demonstrated his faith and Christian values in all areas of his life. He has used his talents to improve the quality of life for countless individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their families. In granting John B. Merz this award, Concordia University, Nebraska thanks God for those who use their God-given talents to serve others. We are pleased to confer upon John B. Merz the Distinguished Service Award.

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John B. Merz

Puyallup, Wash.

John B. Merz attended Concordia Teachers College, now Concordia University, Nebraska from 1971-1975, but left for the United States Army prior to receiving a degree. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in health care management and business management in 1980 from Metropolitan State College of Denver, Colorado. He earned a Master of Business Administration Degree from City University of Seattle, Washington in 1989. He earned both Master of Biblical Studies and Master of Divinity Degrees from Covenant Bible Seminary in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Merz worked in skilled nursing centers from 1981-1985. He owned and operated licensed assisted living facilities and was a co-founder in developing, building and operating three new Pioneer Place dementia care buildings in Tacoma, Washington.

He developed and built Memory Haven in Sumner, Washington in 2013. Memory Haven was established in honor of his second wife, Marcia, one of its first residents. Marcia was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the young age of 55. John served as her personal caregiver for seven years in their family home. Marcia’s eventual need for dementia care outside the home motivated John to create Memory Haven’s unique cottages and care design, which focuses on higher staff-to-resident ratios.

He is a past president of the Washington Health Care Association. He has since retired from long-term care and serves as a professor of Theology at Covenant Bible Seminary in Lakewood, Washington.

He is a member and holds a position on the Board of Elders at Our Savior Lutheran Church. He is active in the Puyallup South Hill Rotary Club and a past president and member of the board of the Washington Health Care Association. He is a former member of the Puyallup Sumner Chamber of Commerce, Leading Age Washington Association and past president of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church as well as past Board of Elders member and Sunday School teacher.

John has three grown children, Alex, Megan and Molly. Their mother, John’s first wife Doris, was from Waco, Nebraska and graduated from Concordia Teachers College, now Concordia University, Nebraska, in 1976. After the deaths of his first two wives, he met and married Carole. The couple live in Puyallup, Washington.