Keith and Sunny were a type, prevalent in midcentury northern Nevada. Frugal, hardworking, with roots in another state, they saved their money and loved their family and the Reno-Sparks community. Keith and Sunny Mentzer worked their way into success. Keith, a mechanic raised on a farm with his large family of 11 siblings in Kansas served in the Pacific during WWII.
Keith moved to Reno and bought a parcel of land in Sparks near the Truckee River where a small airport once stood. Keith and his brother Don started Mentzer Detroit Diesel on the property and built it into a successful business serving Nevada and northern California. The brothers sold the dealership in 1982. Detroit Diesel moved to another location and the Keith and Sunny kept the land as an income generating investment.
Sunny (Edith Roberta Page) met Keith when she worked at Harold’s Club and they married in 1972. Sunny became a founder an active supporter of the Sparks Museum. The couple lived in Sparks until Sunny’s passing in 2013.
At the end of their long lives Sunny and Keith included a gift of the income property in Sparks in their trust to the Community Foundation to help foster children Their generous gift was used to set up the Foster Children Education Scholarship to support high school graduates who are or have been, in foster care in the state of Nevada, and have never been adopted. This scholarship can be used for college, university, vocational or other specialized training.
The fund’s first scholarship award was given this year to a TMCC student, majoring in Criminal Justice who works full-time and is a young mother of two sons. As she understands what it is like to grow up without siblings or parents to rely upon, she feels she can be part of the guidance teens need, and protect the rights of children in a career as a probation officer.