Melvin “Mel” Woodrum passed away peacefully at home holding the hand of his greatly loved wife, Jean and surrounded by his loving daughters Debra Owens, Julie Beck, granddaughter Melanie Newton and niece Ginny Kernal on January 30, 2016 after a hard fought battle, just shy of his 85th birthday.
Mel was born on February 19, 1931 in Kansas City, Missouri to Floyd “Woody” and Gertie Woodrum.
Mel attended grade school on the outskirts of Kansas City during the depression of the 1930’s until his family moved to Hanford, Washington in 1940 where his father helped build the Hanford Power Plant during World War II. Mel finished grade school there and during that time Mel was quite industrious with his bicycle and custom build sidecar. He would pedal his bicycle back and forth to different areas around jobsites and pick up dirty laundry and deliver clean laundry and at the same time selling cold bottles of soda pop to and fro from the ice-box set inside his side car and made some money for a young kid.
After his Dad’s job was finished in Hanford, the family move to Hubbard, Oregon where his dad had a trailer house factory from 1945-49. Mel went to Hubbard High School his freshman year and transferred to North Salem High and had his own apartment and 1946 Chevy 2 door coupe, the next three years until he met his future wife Betty.
During high school Mel held dance parties at his father’s shop on Saturday night, a homemade Wurlitizer juke box and a record collection of 350 songs, most of which were country & western he knew by heart. Kids would come from everywhere, to participate in the activities because Mel was a natural born singer could yodel & whistle quite a tune.
Some stood through for the red, white & blue. Mel was 17 when he and three of his high school buddies joined the U.S. Army National Guard. When Mel was a soldier, he was assigned to the 186th Infantry Regiment anti-tank company in Salem and later transferred to Richland, Washington and received an honorable discharge.
Mel met his wife, Jean, in Hubbard, when she asked him and his dad to have a piece of Apple sauce Cake and he kept coming back for more and they were married in 1949 and were together for “pert-near” 67 years.
Mel joined the International Union of Operating Engineers and was awarded a 65 year pin, Lifetime Membership award and was bestowed with the prestigious 65 year Engraved Brass Plaque which was very rare.
As part of the greatest generation, Mel worked the big job sites; John Day Dam from 1959-1968 and at North Bonneville from 1976-1982 at the Portland Airport, Freeways and bridges, and his experiences, skills were beneficial to the job site superintendents and project engineers.
Mel and Jean raised five children: Danny, Monte, Debra, Rick & Julie. Mel drove, blue and white, nine passenger Chevrolet station wagons. Always going somewhere in the 1950’s and 60’s to arrow-head hunting and Indian artifacts, rivers, lakes, beaches, mountains, camping, fishing, hunting, exploring, swimming, water-skiing, boating, rock hounding and artifacts. Mel had a green thumb as a gardener (sharing his vegetables with his neighbors), scrabble master, Rubics cube champ and avid novel reader.
Mel and Jean traveled the world from the South Pacific to the North Atlantic, all the Continents except Africa, all the European countries except France & every state in the union, all provinces of Canada except one, Peru, Ecuador, Chili. He pulled camper trailers & drove motor homes all over America, Mexico and Canada. One time in China he ate traditional Cantonese food in the town of Canton.
Mel has 12 grandkids, 31 great-grand kids. Mel was loved by all his neighbors, he was so sharing.
Mel had a great life and he was a great American.
Mel was proceeded in death his two sons, Monte and Rick and also his parents.
There are many more stories and memories to be told about this wonderful man.
Viewing will be from 12-6 at Spencer Libby & Powell on Friday, February 5th, 2016 and the Funeral will be at 2:00 on Saturday, February 6th, 2016 at the Methodist Church in Wasco, Oregon. A pot luck will follow at the Church after the service. Those that loved Mel are invited to attend!
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