Franz Herman Menze

GILBERT, Ariz. – Franz Herman Menze, 80, of Gilbert, AZ, succumbed to cancer and passed away in his sleep, July 24, 2013.

He was born April 5, 1933 to Franz and Amelia Menze of Marquette, Michigan.

Herman loved Arizona, work and the outdoors. Growing up in Marquette he enjoyed much time spent on the family farm, in McFarland, collecting sap around the sugar bush, and hunting back at deer camp. After graduating from Bishop Baraga High school, Herman joined the army. While in the service Herman enjoyed working with leather and ran a successful shop making hand tooled briefcases, belts, knife sheathes. From the army, Herman attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with a Business Administration degree in 1958. He joined his father’s firm, Menze Construction, Co, and was married to Bernice Shute of Calumet, all in 1959. Some of his jobs included building the bulk of the support buildings for KI Sawyer Air Force Base and Cleveland Cliffs Mine, along with many churches and schools, commercial and residential alike. In 1969, Herman moved his family to Arizona.

He purchased half of a housing firm in Tempe, AZ and ramped up production from 1 house a month to 1 house per day, completing 365 houses in 1 1/2 years, finishing 2 subdivisions. He enjoyed the outdoors of Arizona and spent much time exploring the state with his kids. Camping, hiking, gold panning, mountain climbing. He obtained a private pilot license and flew twin engine planes. In the ’70s he developed a program that would design a mini storage facility, together with a proforma, which then flowed through to a material list. This programming was all done with a ’70s DOS PC computer.

A visionary and innovator, Herman was ahead of his time, working with computers, and was one of the pioneers of the mini storage boom. Winning many manufacturer and builder awards for design, he was particularly proud of a facility of the year industry award, for a four level storage facility he built in Midlothian, VA, in 2000.The facility resembled President Washington’s Mt. Vernon. His designs and buildings were developed nationally. Herman enjoyed combining “old school” savvy with modern technology to develop, market and build, he credited much of his skills from his early exposure to building.

Along with all of the accomplishments above, he gave his children and grandchildren the gift to succeed. Never to take no for an answer and to always follow your heart. To do anything different would not make sense. No limitations. Not even age. Herman ran his construction company until he passed. To all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he believed in them 100 percent. Children always loved to be around Herman.

Herman was preceded in death by his parents, brother’s Paul and Carl, sister’s Mary and Anne. Survivors include his wife Rita Mae, his 4 children, Joy Menze of Arizona, Penny Menze of Michigan and TN, Kim Menze of Oklahoma, Gina Kopera of Iowa; 4 grandchildren; Kevin Aldridge, Charles Rohan, Kelsey Menze, Devin Kopera, and 3 great-grandchildren; Kylie, Madelyn and Makayla Aldridge. Former wife Bernice Shute Menze of Marquette, brother Joe Menze, as well as many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

A time of gathering with family will be held on Saturday, August 24, in Marquette at the family Farm. Condolences and any memorial tribute can be mailed to Penny Menze, 585 Silver Creek Road, Marquette, MI 49855. The family would enjoy any stories, by those that knew him, from his home town.