John Robert Merkes, “Rob,” 57, of Auburn, WA, passed away on Saturday, March 5, 2022 in San Diego, CA from Covid-19 pneumonia, after having a successful double lung transplant the year prior, due to pulmonary fibrosis.
Rob was born April 10, 1964 in Panorama City, CA to Nancy and Dennis Merkes. Rob grew up mostly in the Rancho Bernardo, CA area, and graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1982. After high school, Rob joined the Air Force, where he served honorably for 6 years. Later he moved to Washington state, where his daughter Morgan was born. In mid-life, Rob made a major career change and followed his dream of becoming a professional pilot and learned to fly jets. He flew charter jets out of Van Nuys, CA for several years, before returning to Washington and continuing his career, becoming rated to command various planes, including the Falcon 2000, Beachjet/Nextant and Gulfstream. Rob met his wife Sara and they were married in Auburn, WA on June 26, 2010.
Rob’s passion was for flying, traveling around the country and world to many exciting places, including South America, Panama, Hawaii and Alaska. While flying charter jets he flew many Hollywood stars and always had a good story to tell of his adventures. He loved finding the perfect restaurant in many of his layover cities, such as a perfect steak in Mexico City, or his favorite deli sandwich in Palm Springs, CA and fresh halibut in Sitka, AK. Rob had many other hobbies, including flying remote control airplanes and drones, and setting videos to music. He was a video gaming enthusiast and even built his own virtual reality flight and racecar driving simulator. He recently took up golf, and was enjoying life to its fullest. He had an amazing sense of humor, and kids and animals gravitated towards his easy and fun personality.
Rob is survived by his wife Sara Taft Merkes of Auburn, WA, his daughter Morgan Merkes of Bonney Lake, WA, and his parents Nancy and Dennis Merkes of Valley Center, CA. He is also survived by his brother Kevin Merkes and his wife Ling, of San Diego, CA, his sister DeAnne Johnson and her husband Rob, of Murrieta, CA, nephew Dillon Johnson, Murrieta, CA, niece McKenna Enriquez and her husband Gio, of North Las Vegas, NV, niece Emily Merkes of San Diego, CA, and his grandchildren, Aliyah Gumeson and Layden Linn, both of Bonney Lake, WA.
Rob was loved by all and will be dearly missed.
A military veterans service and interment at Tahoma National Cemetery will be held at a future date. In memory of Rob, please consider becoming an organ donor.