John Harmon Mercer was born September 30, 1962, in Topeka, Kan., the third son of Jerry D. and Avanelle R. Mercer. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in December 2008.
His battle with brain cancer came to a quiet end on August 1, 2010. John was a loving father, son, uncle, cousin, nephew, friend and inspiration.
The first three years of his life were spent on the Washburn University campus with his family in married student housing. He always enjoyed playing with the neighborhood boys and trying to keep up with his big brothers. He was sober and reflective, even as a child. He did lots of growing up with his younger brother, as they cut together and learned to walk and run together.
After his father’s graduation from Washburn, the family moved to the youth center in Atchison, where his father started a pilot program to care for juvenile delinquent boys. This gave the Mercer boys some advantages and different outlooks on life. They would play hide-and-seek and cowboys and Indians, and they would pile leaves at the bottom of the slipper slide for a fun trip down. They learned to play pool, learned about taking care of pets, and learned how to swim at the swimming pool. There were many experiences living with disadvantaged boys that gave John a compassion for helping others in need. While he was called “Big Bad John” by his school friends, he was really a softy.
John was baptized as a member of the Community of Christ Church and attended camps and family reunions at Farwesta Camp in Stewartsville, Mo. He attended school in Atchison, graduating in 1981. He was an all-state football player and also wrestled and threw shot put for Atchison High School. One summer he spent mornings and evenings moving seven tons of sand back and forth from big wooden boxes to build up his muscles to be strong for sports that year.
He was recruited heavily to play football at most Kansas colleges, but chose rather to attend as a regular student at Kansas State University, deciding that a football scholarship just made him meat on the hoof to the schools and he wanted to graduate with his legs under him. He loved playing softball, volleyball and bowling with friends as recreation while away at college. While at K-State, he began working part time for the Walmart Store in Manhattan, where he met his wife, Cricket. When he graduated with a business degree in accounting, he became an assistant manager for the Walmart Store in Junction City. From there he opened many new stores for Walmart, interviewing hundreds of potential employees.
Son Mark Harmon Mercer was born while he was in Colby. Daughter Emily Anne Mercer was born while he was in Salina. He also opened a store in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was very well respected by the company. He even worked a couple of years in the home office at Bentonville, Ark. He also worked in Indiana as a district manager and store manager in Lincoln, Neb. He was able to save stores having trouble, and that made him even more valuable. He asked to be transferred to Lawrence so that he could be closer to family.
After 16 years of working for Walmart, he decided to change career paths and begin working for the Kansas Department of Revenue. With his new career, he was able to spend time with his wife and kids. He did not have many of what people call hobbies. His family was his biggest hobby and joy. John and his family made friends wherever they lived. John and his family have been very giving and would do anything for someone else, including providing a place to live.
John is survived by his wife, Cricket; son, Mark; and daughter, Emily. He is also survived by his parents, Jerry and Avanelle Mercer; his brothers, Edward, Jeff and Ken; and sister, Sara; and their families, respectively, as well as many other extended family members.
John will be sorely missed by many people and will make a wonderful angel for the Lord from above.