The community is mourning the loss of John Pazin — a true Mercedian through and through — who passed away on the morning of New Year’s Eve at his home in town. He was 93.
Pazin is the father of former Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin, and Mark told the Times on Monday that his father appeared to be bouncing back “like always” from a health issue around Christmas Eve, but this time he never fully recovered.
Friends remember Pazin as a proud U.S. Army veteran, a successful local businessman, a community-minded resident, a fun-loving prankster, and most of all, a loving husband to his wife of 64 years, Nada, who died in 2020.
“I think he died of a broken heart after he lost Nada,” reflected E.J. ‘Almo’ Lorenzi, a lifelong friend.
Lorenzi added: “He came from a very hard working family of Croatian heritage. He went to Our Lady of Mercy School, and then Merced High School. He worked at his dad’s dairy through high school, and then served in the Army during the war in Korea.”
Pazin would marry his sweetheart and later enjoy a lucrative career in wholesale oil and fuel distribution in the region. He became a Chevron distributor, and a partner with Pazin & Myers since the early 1970s. Meanwhile, the Pazin family would grow to include Mark, Renee, Richard and Brian.
Good friend Chuck Meyer remembers going on many memorable “fishing adventures” with John Pazin and fellow friends Jack Stavros, Chuck Beiswanger and Ed Blankenship near places such as Downieville, Jackson Hole, and even south of the border in Mexico.
Meyer said Pazin was always involved in some kind of practical joke such as driving off and pretending to leave one or two of his friends behind out in the middle of nowhere, switching someone’s toothpaste with a tube of Preparation H, or being on the receiving end of a well-timed “mooning.”
These same Merced cronies could also be found almost every week with their wives having dinner at the Elks Club for some 40 years. They even had their own special table.
Later in life, Pazin’s car was easily identifiable around town because it had a personalized “Merced” license plate.
Last June, family members and friends held a special birthday party for John Pazin inside the Elks Lodge to commemorate his 93rd birthday. In addition to relatives, the event was attended by a number of local leaders, including State Assemblyman Adam Gray, Merced County Supervisors Daron McDaniel and Josh Pedrozo, Merced Mayor Matthew Serratto, and Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke.
Those attending the event thanked Pazin for his dedication to helping improve the local community and commemorated the event and his accomplishments with plaques and certificates.
Funeral services for John Pazin are being prepared for later this month, and an obiturary will be forthcoming in the upcoming edition of the Times.