His mother died in a car wreck when he was four and he lived for a short time with his Pentecostal grandmother who taught him about Jesus Christ, and never gave up praying for him and claiming him for Jesus.
Mel lived a checkered youth and was living on the streets at the age of 14. He was in and out of foster homes, tried the hippie thing for a few years, went so far as going to San Francisco in a micro mini bus. Then he figured higher education was the key, and he would find what he was looking for there. Though he never finished high school he went to college. He went to two colleges in Portland area, on to St Louis, then to Boise State. Though he went far and wide searching in higher education, looking for something to satisfy his inner soul, he never found it there.
It wasn’t until Mel went to prison that he finally found what he was looking for. He came to know his Lord and his Savior and from that point on he couldn’t keep quiet about what God had done for him. Mel never allowed being in prison to define his life.
Mel moved to the Stites area in 1994 and not long after went to work for the Senior Nutrition Program in Kooskia and later when they merged he continued baking in Kamiah. Though he retired from baking at the Kamiah Mealsite in February this year, he was still manager of the kitchen. He was well known for his famous cinnamon rolls, he even had orders for them from California.
On November 4, 1994, Mel married Robin (Hall) and two days later he was ordained in Valley Christian Assembly in Emmett, Idaho. Mel and Robin, (Robin played the piano and sang), started their ministry together, first back into the prisons “from whence he came”, going to Boise, Orofino and Cottonwood. He also began doing Search for Truth Bible Studies in homes, training Christians with an over view of the Bible. He was passionate about people getting a clear understanding of the Bible. He implemented a twelve-step program, ministering to the addicted and dysfunctional. Soon they were traveling around Idaho and preaching in different churches even as far as New Jersey.
In 2005 when several people came together and asked if he would do a Bible Study, He entered into another chapter of His life where he began his Pastor/Shepherding ministry. We began to meet together in our home from that Hope Fellowship was birthed. Mel always told his church he was just one of the sheep, just like you, only God had put a bell around his neck and said lead.
Mel’s favorite saying was “I’m not going to back up, give up, or shut up, until God takes me up.” On May 27, 2021 Mel’s voice was silenced when he was taken up to be in the presence of Jesus.
He is survived by his wife, Robin, step children Tracy & Tom Horak, Dallas & Jane Baldwin, Grandchildren Dylan, Bailey, & Josie, his brother Orrin & Charlotte, step-sister Mona, nieces and nephews, and a large church family that Mel loved as much as his own family. Much to Mel’s regret he was never able to build a relationship with his children Lori, Jeff, and Christy, after moving to Stites..
Due to his background he had a heart and compassion for the prodigals, He was that father that never gave up, always looking down the road for the prodigal. He never pulled a punch, even sounding harsh at times and yet they always knew he loved them. He never held on to bitterness in his heart but was always looking to win them over to Christ. Mel was quick witted with an answer for everybody.
Mel had a vibrant passion for God, he was a Bible thumping, ever preaching, loving no matter where you were physically-mentally-spiritually, grace giving, fun loving, gun packing, charismatic, servant to all. If he wasn’t dressed up in his suit for Sunday you would find him in one of his Hawaiian shirts.
He will leave a hole in our hearts and in the community and will be greatly missed. We love him very much.
His graveside service (planting, Ro 6:4, 1 Cor 15:52), will be at the Harpster Cemetery 10:30 June 5, 2021. His Celebration Service will follow at 12pm the Gospel Lighthouse Church, 406 Main St, Stites ID. There will be a potluck following at the Kooskia Elementary School.