A Merced ‘rags-to-riches story.’ Community mourns loss of local businessman John Pazin

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Local petroleum industry businessman and stalwart community booster John Pazin spent almost his entire life in Merced.

He was born in Merced, grew up here, met his wife Nada, who he was married to for 66 years, raised their children here and ran a successful business for decades.

The only time Pazin left Merced for an extended period of time was when he was in the United States Army, serving in the Korean War from 1951-53, according to his obituary.

“His life truly was a Hallmark movie rags-to-riches story,” said son Mark Pazin, who served as the Merced County Sheriff from 2003 to 2013, and for eight years served as chief of California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

John Pazin died on Dec. 31 at his home in Merced. He had suffered a cardio-vascular episode a few days earlier. He was 93.

Pazin had deep roots in Merced. A descendant of Croatian immigrants, he was born in 1928 in a small-two story farmhouse that he would eventually inherit. “He started with nothing,” Mark said.

Pazin served on the frontline during the Korean War in 1951-53 and received the Bronze Medal. He was honorably discharged at the rank of First Sergeant.

Longtime Merced resident John Pazin recently died at the age of 93. Here is a photo of Pazin while he served for the United States Army during the Korean War.
Longtime Merced resident John Pazin recently died at the age of 93. Here is a photo of Pazin while he served for the United States Army during the Korean War.

After returning from the war, John Pazin soon married Nada in 1954. He assumed his family’s dairy farm at Route 2 and Vasser Avenue.

Pazin eventually moved on from the dairy farm and began driving a fuel truck. He was later able to acquire some loans from family and bought a business — The Flying “A”/Tidewater fuel distribution which was located at 16th and G streets.

That started Pazin on a business career path that lasted decades. Later, the Chevron Jobber franchise in 1990 led to Pazin’s partnership with Jim Myers that formed Pazin & Myers Inc., a successful petroleum and petroleum products distribution company.

John and Nada Pazin’s four children were Mark, Renee, Richard and Brian.

He was very active in the community. He was active in the Merced County Chamber of Commerce, even serving as president. He was a member of the Italo Lodge, the Elks Lodge and other clubs. Pazin was also involved with Castle Air Force Base and was able to take part in “distinguished flights” across the country, according to his obituary.

“Merced was important to him,” said longtime friend Chuck Meyers. “He grew up here. He went on to raise a family here. He went to school in Merced, he developed a business in Merced. This was his home. Merced was very important to him and so were the people in Merced.”

Meyers, Pazin and other friends made many fishing trips all over the state and in Mexico. “He was a fun guy to be around,” Meyers added. “We just had a really good time, doing things guys do.”

Another close friend who made many of those fishing trips was the late John Minetti. Minetti had a license plate on one of his vehicles that read “MRCD CA.”

Pazin loved the personalized plate and when Minetti died, Pazin respectfully asked the Minetti family if he could have the license plate.

That plate is still on Pazin’s Jeep Cherokee. “That meant a lot to him and showed how much he cared about Merced,” Mark Pazin said.

John was preceded in death by Nada, who passed in 2020, and his youngest son Brian.

John Pazin is survived by his son Mark, his daughter Renee, his son Richard and spouse Leah, 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 at Our Lady Mercy Church located on 21st Street and Canal Street at 10 a.m. A private burial will follow with a reception at the Merced Elks Lodge located at 1910 M Street.

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