Melvin Louis Pedersen passed away Jan. 8 in a house fire.
Melvin “Mel” was born April 19, 1931, to Louie and Ruth Pedersen in Walthill, Neb. To escape the Dust Bowl, the family moved to Oregon in 1936. They settled down in Sweet Home.
Mel graduated from Sweet Home High School in 1948. After graduation, he went to college in Eugene at Northwest Christian College. While at college, he met his future wife, Wilma Lewis. They were married Sept. 21, 1948, and remained married until her death in August 2017. From this marriage, nine children were born. In 1968, the family moved to Jefferson, where all the kids attended school.
Early in Melvin’s life, he was a farmer who got up at 5 a.m. to milk the cows and do the rest of the chores before walking to school. After he got married, he worked as a logger. When the family moved to Jefferson, Melvin worked for Teledyne Wah Chang as a furnace operator. He held that position for 32 years . In 1984, he and Wilma moved to Monmouth to become the youth ministers at Monmouth Christian Church. They did that for a couple years before taking the manager’s job at Camp Koinonia in Sweet Home. They did that for nine years and then finally decided to retire again. They moved to Burns and bought a small farm near the airport where they raised miniature donkeys and Shih Tzu dogs. They started attending Burns Christian Church, and Mel was the interim pastor many times. At the age of 75, they had enough of bucking hay and moving water pipes, and moved into town, where Mel resided until his death.
Melvin loved the Lord more than anyone and anything. He would write letters to loved ones with scriptures, notes of encouragement, and proclamations of love. He loved going to the store and visiting with people. He would spend hours just buying a loaf of bread, and would know all of the people who gave him a hug and tell them that he loved them. Melvin was a people person. He would pick up hitch-hikers and bring them to his house. He would feed them, let them take a shower, and then start asking about their relationship with Jesus.
In 1968, Melvin joined the Jefferson Fire Department. He spent 18 years on the fire department. There is even a pumper truck named after him at the Talbot fire station. He was also one of the first 10 EMTs in the state of Oregon. He would get up at all hours of the day and night when the fire whistle blew and be gone for however long it took to take care of the situation.
As a family man, Melvin loved all his real kids and all of his “adopted by love” kids. He took them to Newport and taught them how to fish. He would take everyone to the Siletz River to go fishing for steelhead and salmon. Most of all, he taught them a love for the outdoors, the types of trees, and the age and story to go along with that type of tree. He loved to have huge gardens when all his children were at home. He would feed all his kids plus… well, the whole town quite frankly. He had a lot of kids, and he made them all work to teach them good work ethics.
Melvin is survived by his children, Dianna Verdino, Jan McDonald, Loretta (Pete) Jacobs, Melvin “Tiny” Pedersen, Mike Pedersen, Leland Pedersen, Marjie Downing, and Tim Pedersen.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Wilma; and Thomas Andrew.
A celebration of life was held Jan. 20 at the Harney County Church of the Nazarene.
Contributions in Melvin’s memory may be made to the Burns Foursquare Church.