To Paul Melvin

Tuesday night I found out that a really good guy had passed on, and I knew I had to mention it… I just didn’t know how. And honestly, I still don’t. I haven’t the vaguest idea what I’m going to say, but I’m going to say something.

Let’s see what I’ve got.

When I was in classes at university, I spent some time singing in the local Methodist choir. It was a college gig – we got paid a little bit, and the folks at church were always wonderful to us, and we got to be spiritual on a weekly basis. It was pretty nifty. You all know by now that church jobs fall lower on my favorites list than many other things, but I was always glad of the time I spent there. It was a pretty good place.

At the Methodist church I met the Melvins. I met Brad Melvin, and I met his wife, Debbie. They conducted the choir. I met Paul Melvin and somewhere along the line I met Dick Melvin, too. The Melvins were neat. They were Good Folks. Paul was the father of Brad and Dick. Paul was an excellent fellow. There was no one in the world niftier than Paul. He was clever, and funny, and he goofed around during choir practice. He had a kind voice and a kind heart and he was just the best bloke you’d ever meet. Period.

I sang in the choir for most of my college time, off and on. I sang in a choir in Youngstown with both Brad and Dick. Later I worked for Dick’s publishing company for a rocky couple of years. Paul worked there too, helping here and there. I honestly don’t know (or care) what his job description was. That crazy office was smoother and gentler with him around. The days Paul came in were always better than those he didn’t. Sometimes he was golfing, or not feeling well. Sometimes, I’m pretty sure, he just slept late. Dude, I’d forgive Paul anything. He was the best part of that place.

I don’t really remember the last time I saw him. I tried to give him a call about a design lead he’d left me, once, but I never managed to get through and the lead fell through the cracks anyway. I no longer sang with the Methodist choir or the Youngstown group, so I saw no more of Brad or Dick Melvin, except for a brief dinner discussion I had with Dick awhile later. That was long ago now. I regret having lost touch with Debbie, who I believe conducts a church choir in Poland now. There are no more Melvins in my life, and I think that’s probably sad. But that Paul, he was really something. There wasn’t anyone in the world like him, and maybe there still isn’t. What can you say about someone like that?

If he happens back, I hope he crosses my path. If he doesn’t, he’s probably up there playing golf and crackin’ jokes and making someone’s day extra ‘specially good. That’s kinda just what Paul did.


I’m sorry to be the one to bring you news but I thought you’d want to know, being friends with Debbie, and more than your fair share of Melvins really. It’s not really appropriate email material but it beats reading about it in the paper. Paul passed away tonight. If you prefer, I’ll let you know when calling hours and the funeral are. Paul always liked you a great deal. Long after you parted ways with OGR, he spoke very highly of you. I haven’t really processed the loss yet. He’s as close to a grandpa as I had since I was a kid, and I only worked with the man for a few years. He’ll be missed, for certain.


Paul’s calling hours were last night, and his memorial service was held this morning at 11am in Poland. I wanted very badly to attend one or both, and (as I unhappily expected) my schedule just refused to allow me either. Getting that email broke my heart. It still feels broken, three days later. But I’m going to remember him here, on my own, for what it’s worth.

If I never meet him again, I can say one thing. I can say that he was really one of the high points down here. That was one good dude.

I’m havin’ a drink to Paul Melvin. I’ve got a big bottle of extra special celtic whiskey that I think will do the trick. Those who knew him ever spoke well of him. If ever he crossed your path, please do the same.

Bottoms up!

3 Responses to “To Paul Melvin”

  1. pam Gast @ 6:47 am on July 12th, 2006

    Dear Megan,

    I am Paul Melvin’s daughter (the youngest of the Melvin clan) and I have just read your kind words about my dad. You are absolutely correct… he was one of a kind and there is not another like him in the whole world. I am thrilled that your life was touched by his. Please let me share her some words that I was able to share at his funeral. And may God bless you,

    Pam Gast

    My dad was a copywriter. He expressed himself best in writing; a fact he expressed to all of his children when he wrote us each letters over the years, sharing his love for us, words of wisdom, or encouragement for a situation in our lives. So I now turn to the blank page to express myself in the way my father did…. in writing.

    I think you would agree that to meet my dad was to remember him forever. He had a way of making an indelible imprint on every life he touched – I dare say, even some lives of people who to this day do not know my dad’s name. He was an “entertainer” and a people-person, who wouldn’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with a stranger as if they were old friends. I remember a time when some of us in the family had had lunch at the Perkins Restaurant. As we were walking from our table to the cash register, my dad stopped at a table at which were seated one man and several women, all somewhat advanced in years. He surveyed the situation for a moment and then said to the gentleman, “I just want to know how a guy like you managed to be seated at this table surrounded by all of these beautiful women!” The man grinned and all of the women laughed, obviously flattered. Dad laughed with them, and good-naturedly slapped the man on the back as if they were old buddies, and then moved on. We all paid our bills, and Dad and I made our way outside. Once in the parking lot, he said, “Now see. Those people were all sitting at that table, and not one of them had a smile on their face. But with one little comment, all the faces were smiling and laughing, and if for only one moment, they all forgot their cares and worries.” So that was his big mission. In his own small, goofy way, he went about making people happy, if only for a moment. What a guy…..

    But there was more to him than that. He was intelligent, creative, serious and fun-loving. I have consulted my dad on important decisions throughout my adult life, watched him genuinely encourage my husband as if Greg was his own son, enjoyed seeing him help my daughter Bethany create an advertisement for the best candy bar, but also watched him learn the latest hip-hop dance with my children (by the way, he plays a mean air guitar!). He wasn’t perfect, but he was amazing.

    As he stated in a letter to me once, he and my mother did their best to raise all of us in a Christian home, although he openly admitted that he felt our mother did a much better job of this than he did. Although my dad was well aware of his limitations and flaws, his faith in a loving, restoring God was deep and abiding. He loved the apostle Paul and his writings, not just because they shared a name, but because they shared the struggles of living the Christian life. And he believed the words of Jesus when he said, “Without me, you can do nothing,” a scripture that has been displayed on a piece of paper in the corner of a painting of The Last Supper in his home for almost thirty years. But he also believed a scripture that he encouraged Randy and me to memorize when we were children: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In those two scriptures, interestingly enough, is the Gospel in a nutshell. Without Christ, we are nothing, but with Him all things are possible.

    Now a word to my family, and all of those who will miss my dad and would love to see him again. I believe he would say to each of us, “Be there!” Only a few days before my father’s hospitalization, we were making plans together, and he tagged to the end of our plans, “if the good Lord wills.” When a few nights later my dad was admitted to the hospital, I stayed with him overnight the first night. As the night grew long, and in spite of being a bit anxious about his present circumstances, he said to me, “I’m not afraid. I am in the hands of the Great Physician. I’ll get out of here one way or another.” His faith in Christ assured him of his eternal destination, and it is my prayer that each one of us surrenders our lives to Christ so that we, too, can have that same assurance.

    I share my father’s faith in God. But it was not religious training or flawless example that enabled me to easily embrace the saving grace of Jesus Christ. It was the incredible example of strength, character and deep love that I found in my dad that made believing in a loving Heavenly Father so natural and easy. Thanks again, Dad.

  2. Randy Melvin @ 7:50 am on July 12th, 2006

    Megan…I’m one of the other Melvin’s that you never met; there’s also Pam, our sister. Thank you very much for your wonderful comments. Dad touched many people’s lives in ways that even his family didn’t realize. I guess when you’re so close to things we all take those “special” things for granted. Brad came across your column above by accident. Thank you.

  3. Debbie MELVIN @ 12:41 pm on July 17th, 2006

    Oh Megan, I miss dad so much some days and still cry now and then. Thankyou so much for the wonderful things you said. Please get an email to me soon so that we can connect for a visit.

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