Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, staff writer Paul Wood chats with Mark Wertz, 36, of St. Joseph, owner of Wertz Chiropractic Clinic. He’s an outdoorsman, a family guy and a Christian.
Mark, where did you grow up?
On our family farm just east of Homer, in the country, even though we didn’t farm. It was a great place to grow up. My brother and I spent most of our time outside playing ball or riding bikes. We moved to St. Joe before my freshman year of high school. I played youth football in St. Joe for seven years, so it was an easy transition for us. My family all lives in St. Joe now, we love it.
What’s your favorite thing about St. Joseph?
The people are friendly, the schools are great, parents are heavily involved in extracurricular activities and it’s safe. It was a no-brainer where I wanted to raise my family.
What was your family life like?
My parents were always very involved in our activities. My dad coached most of our sports, and if he wasn’t the coach, he’d be working with us at home. He even built a full-size baseball diamond on our property so we could practice at home and our team would always have a place to practice. My mom was in real estate, so she had a flexible schedule and was always around to take us where we needed to be and have us ready for practice.
At Illinois State University, you earned a degree in exercise science. What made you decide to study that?
Originally, I was an accounting major. I had no idea what I wanted to study when I went to college and just went with what my friend, who I was going to be rooming with, was going to study. I met a guy my freshman year who was there getting his prerequisite courses to get into chiropractic college.
How did you move into your current field?
When I was 15 years old, playing high school football, I started having sharp pain in my back that was different than typical pain that I had experienced before. We went to my doctor who took X-rays, told me I had scoliosis and sent me to a spine specialist. There I was told that I needed to have surgery that would require metal rods be screwed into my spine. They said I could never be active or play sports again. If my family couldn’t afford the surgery, they said I’d need to wear a brace, at all times, except to bathe.
So what was next?
It was after that appointment my mom started looking for other options. I started being treated with chiropractic adjustments and was able to continue playing football and other sports. I can’t imagine what kind of condition I would be in today If I had had the surgery. I’m still very active and have minimal pain due to my condition. Fast forward to my sophomore year in college and I had a friend who was taking prerequisite courses for chiropractic college. I didn’t like what I was studying, knew most of the anatomy he was studying, and he talked me into following in his footsteps into chiropractic school.
When is it important to seek chiropractic help?
The nervous system is responsible for every thought, every movement, every emotion and every function in the human body. Most chiropractors focus on the spine, which houses and protects the spinal cord. If there are any structural changes in the spine, it can have an effect on your nervous system, which can present in a variety of ways. Sometimes they come in for pain and realize the treatments improve other ailments that they didn’t think were even related. The majority of patients come in to get out of pain or have less pain. Some see me to improve their athletic performance or decrease the likelihood of injury.
With your wife and family, you enjoy hunting, fishing and being outdoors. Is that something from your childhood?
My love for the outdoors began early. We spent most of our time as kids playing outside in the country. My dad liked to camp, hunt and work outside, so that’s probably where I get it.
Do you have a guilty pleasure and what is it?
I’m not sure if it falls into the guilty pleasure category, but the first thing that comes to mind is peanut butter — a fudge snowstorm from Jarling’s Custard Cup. I typically get one every summer. Then I’ll go on a sugar fast for a few weeks.
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
The top of my bucket list includes New Zealand and Iceland just because of the landscapes and scenery. I would also love to stay in an overwater bungalow. However, I’m kind of a homebody and haven’t traveled a lot so I’m not holding my breath for these trips.
What’s your favorite sports team?
The St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Bears and the Fighting Illini.
What would you order for your last meal?
I’m pretty particular about my eating, but if I was going to have a “last meal” and not care how I felt afterward, I would probably have Papa Del’s pizza, thin crust with all the toppings.
Who are your favorite musicians and why?
Country music (’90s and older) and classic rock are my favorite genres. The list is too long, but that’s what I really enjoy.
What’s the happiest memory of your life?
My happiest memories include my wedding day, my three kids’ births and graduation day.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite? What would you serve?
If I could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, I would invite my grandma (Mildred Wolf), my mom (Judy Wertz-Lehmann) and my wife (Megan). I would have to include the rest of my family though. We love spending time together, so I’d have to include them all. For the food, I’d serve my families Thanksgiving dinner. My mom, sister and grandma are amazing cooks.
Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?
Jesus. He showed us how to live with love and how to treat others. He was tempted, ridiculed and crucified, and never wavered from doing the right thing. He didn’t deserve it, but he died so that we could be forgiven, and there is no one more admirable in history.
What’s your best piece of advice?
I still remember my grandma telling me about “The Golden Rule” when I was little. Treat others how you would want to be treated. For some reason, when she taught me a lesson, it stuck.
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
My first job was working in the fields at Vineyard Seeds that later became Cargill, across the streetfrom Frito-Lay east of Sidney. We counted rows of corn in the test plots, cross pollinated and detasseled corn. I believe I was 13 years old when I started and made minimum wage, which was $4.25 an hour. We worked outside every day in the blazing hot summer and learned to appreciate what it took to earn a dollar.
Do you have any regrets in your life? What are they?
I have plenty of regrets in my life. I’ve made my share of poor decisions, that’s for sure. However, I have learned from my mistakes and believe that I’m a better person because of it.
How do you handle a stressful situation?
Stress is a part of everyone’s lives. Getting married, having kids, deciding to take on massive amounts of student loans to go through chiropractic college, are all stressful life events, but you have to take responsibility for your decisions and make sure you fulfill your obligations. Also, being an athlete, I’ve faced opponents that have forced me to focus and perform under stress. Spending more than eight years in college, I’ve had lots of stressful classes and exams that I’ve had to prepare for. Stress is a part of everyone’s life. I feel like God doesn’t give me more than I can handle.