Rockwood Fire Department Chief (Ret.) Robert Michael “Mike” Wertz, age 73, a resident of Rockwood, Tennessee passed away Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at the Erlanger Hospice Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was born August 9, 1949, in Roanoke, Virginia. Mike attended The Grace Place Church in Rockwood. Chief Wertz’s career in public service began at an early age when he went to live and work at the former Booth Funeral Home in Rockwood, where he served families in the funeral profession and in the ambulance service operated by the funeral home. He also served for a brief time at Kyker Funeral Home. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was a Veteran of the Vietnam War serving in Thailand as an Air Force Firefighter and Crash/Rescue Specialist. He served as a Police Officer with the Rockwood Police Department and a Deputy with the Roane County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Wertz’s career in the Fire Service began in 1968 and led him to many places and areas of service. He served as Fire Chief of the former Newport Resort in Rhea County, Tennessee, and also served on the civilian side for the Fire Department of the U.S. Army’s Post at Fort Pickett, Virginia, and Fort Lee, Virginia. He was a HazMat Specialist, Fire, and Building Inspector, and was a longtime Instructor with the former Tennessee State Fire School and the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. He served in various positions during his time at Rockwood Fire Department, beginning as a Firefighter in the 1970s, Fire and Building Inspector and Training Officer in 1994, and Assistant Chief in 2000. Chief Wertz also has the distinction of being the longest-serving Fire Chief in the Rockwood Fire Department serving from 1977-1981 and 2002-2015. He loved History and was like a walking history book, especially about Rockwood’s history and the history of the Fire Service, and was always enjoyed sharing a story or a laugh. Mike enjoyed woodworking, Old Westerns, and gameshows, but his passion was the Fire Service, “Serving and Protecting” the citizens, and mentoring, teaching, and training future Firefighters. Chief Wertz left a lasting impression on every Firefighter that passed through Rockwood Fire Department and trained many Firefighters in Roane County and other departments. He was a friend, a fellow firefighter, a leader and mentor, public servant, and will be missed by us all. “Pretty Work, Chief”.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Dorothy Cook, and his father, James Wertz.
Wife of 53 years: Linda Wertz of Rockwood, TN
Sons & Daughters-in-law: Shane & Melissa Wertz of Rockwood, TN and Jamie & Sherry Wertz of Rockwood, TN
Grandchildren: Alisha Wertz, Madison Wertz, Skyla Brackett, and Savannah Brackett
Great Grandchildren: Ally Freels, Braylee Brackett, Kavin Brackett, and Maverick Hickey
The Rockwood Fire Department Family and many Brothers and Sisters in Uniform
And several other relatives and friends.
The family will receive friends Thursday, March 23, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. (E.D.T.) at the Evans Mortuary. Funeral services will follow on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. (E.D.T.) from the Chapel of Evans Mortuary with Pastor Ernie Willis and Chaplain Bruce Foster officiating. Services will conclude with Fire Department Honors. Private family interment will be held at a later date.