June 29, 1924 - July 14, 2021
Melvin Leroy Elder, 97, of Sisters, Oregon, formerly of La Grande, Oregon, passed peacefully surrounded by his family in Sisters, Oregon, on July 14, 2021. A memorial service will be held on October 16, 2021, at 10 a.m. at the First Christian Church in La Grande.
Melvin was born in Washington, Kansas, on June 29, 1924, to Harry and Olive Elder. He grew up on farms during the Depression helping his father with farming from the age of 5. Life changed the day that a truck piled high with furnishings showed up at the house across the road when the Stoffel family moved in with 13 children. Eventually, the eldest Stoffel girl, Edna Mae (“Eddie”), caught his attention before he headed to serve in the Navy in the Pacific.
Mel volunteered during World War II for the U.S. Navy, where he served as a radio man on numerous ships including the USS Hinsdale that transported Marines to invade Iwo Jima. He witnessed the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi. From there, they proceeded to the island of Okinawa where a kamikaze pilot attacked and disabled the Hinsdale. He had a job waiting for him at a sign company in Tillamook, Oregon, after being discharged.
Mel and Eddie were married on June 9, 1946. Their son Michael and their daughter Jan were born in Tillamook, Oregon. Soon after, they moved to La Grande, Oregon, where they purchased a sign business, Grande Ronde Sign Co. They owned and operated this business for 29 years. Their third child Melanie was born in 1955.
During his life in La Grande, Mel enjoyed hunting, golfing, volunteering and supporting the First Christian Church, where he was an elder. He served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, the JayCees, Red Cross and the La Grande Country Club and was a member of the Blue Mountain Boys.
He lived in Sisters, Oregon, the last 18 months of his life to be near his daughter Melanie. Mel was loved by everyone who knew him. He had a large impact on many lives by just living his life as a caring, funny, honest, moral and most helpful person. His beloved wife Eddie nicknamed him Melder, which many of you in La Grande know him by.
Mel was preceded in death by his wife, Eddie; his parents, Harry and Olive; sisters, Dorothy, Gerry and Ann; and great-grandson, William Zachary. He is survived by his children, Mike, Jan and Melanie (husband Mark); grandchildren, Scott (Carol), Brian (Angela), Ginny (Cary), Jamie, Jeff (Juli), and Megan (Peter); and great-grandchildren, Amelia, Alleson, Grayson, Kieren and Maren.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.lovelandfuneralchapel