Cover photo for John Melvin Merchant's Obituary
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1934 John 2024

John Melvin Merchant

November 6, 1934 — February 28, 2024

Sioux City, IA

John Melvin Merchant, 89, a longtime resident of Sioux City, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 28th, at his home.

Visitation with the family will take place on Sunday, March 10th from 4-6 pm, with a prayer service at 6 pm at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3204 S. Lakeport St., Sioux City, IA. A funeral service will be held at 10 am on Monday, March 11th at Redeemer Lutheran Church For those unable to attend in person, the funeral service will be streamed live online via the Redeemer Lutheran Church Facebook Page. Following the funeral service on Monday, burial will be held at Memorial Park Cemetery with full military honors from the South Sioux City American Legion Post 307 and VFW Post 10753.

John was born on November 6th, 1934, in Elgin, NE, to John Alvin Merchant and Anne E. (Schenzel). His family relocated to Sioux City during his youth, where John grew up alongside his eight brothers and two sisters.

In 1953, John enlisted in the U.S. Army, Infantry Division, and was stationed at Fort Benning, GA. John was home on leave when he met his beloved Elaine Hollinger. They were united in marriage on September 11th, 1954 in Sioux City. Together, they embarked on John's military journey in Georgia.

Upon completing his military service, John and Elaine settled on Sioux City's north side, where they built a home and raised their three daughters: Joyce Elaine, Paula Ann, and Julie Kay. John's dedication to his family extended beyond measure, evident in his handcrafted home. John and Elaine had great joy in being parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

John worked at Johnson Biscuit Company, later moving to a semi-truck driver for Apar Brokerage, Container Corporation and Continental Baking. In his later years, he was a bus driver for Sioux City Transit. 

Eventually John and Elaine welcomed eight grandchildren. John adored all of his grandkids and made each and every one feel extremely special. 

Throughout his life, John pursued various interests, including his passion for dog shows with his Saint Bernards Tiny Nick of the Alpines and Sir Cedric Cooper, flying remote-controlled planes, collecting Barbies, and building HO model trains. He found solace in the melodies of classic country music, often strumming his guitar to tunes by Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Hank Williams, and Elvis.

John traveled to Washington, D.C. on a Midwest Honor Flight. It proved to be a glorious day and memory for John. John found a newfound love with God and was baptized at Redeemer Lutheran Church in September of 2022. 

Survivors include daughters: Paula Steig and husband Bill Babb of Sioux City and Julie Lanzourakis of Sioux City; grandchildren: Hiedi Willemsen, Jennifer Willemsen, Melissa (Al Joens) Lanzourakis, Michael (Aimee French) Willemsen, David (Justin Whitehair) Steig, Zackery Lanzourakis, Kurt Steig, and James Lanzourakis; 11 great grandchildren; brothers Bob Merchant and Kelly Merchant and many nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers will be John’s grandsons: Michael Willemsen, David Steig, Zackery Lanzourakis, Kurt Steig and James Lanzourakis.

Honorary pallbearers are John’s granddaughters: Hiedi Willemsen, Jennifer Willemsen and Melissa Lanzourakis. 

John was preceded in death by his parents, wife Elaine Florence Merchant, daughter Joyce Willemsen, and ten siblings:  Charles, Douglas, Carl, Oscar, Eugene, Frank, Mary, Clara; half-siblings Juanita and B.J. 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to make donations to Hospice of Siouxland, Midwest Honor Flight or Siouxland Freedom Park. 

The family would like to thank the staff at Whispering Creek Senior Living for their wonderful care of John.   

John Melvin Merchant's life was a testament to resilience, love, and unwavering devotion to family and faith. He will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Melvin Merchant, please visit our flower store.


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