Deceased March 16, 2009

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In Memory

Our classmate John Melin of Springfield (Ill.) died Monday, March 16, 2009, at Memorial Medical Center after a brief illness. He was 80. He was born in Springfield on March 27, 1928, the son of Frank L. Melin and Mary Shaver Melin, and is survived by a sister, Jane Wilday (Mrs. James W. Wilday) of Springfield; nephews Jeff Wilday of Springfield and James M. “Jay” Wilday of Littleton, Colo.; and great-nephews, John Wilday of Denver, Colo., Matthew Wilday of Chicago, Ill., and Scott Wilday, Brett Wilday, and Kevin Wilday, all of Littleton, Colo.

John was graduated from Springfield High School and Amherst College. He also did graduate work at Yale Univ. before receiving a master’s degree in mathematics from the Univ. of Illinois.

After college, graduate studies, and military service with the U.S. Navy, John had a lifelong career with IBM which lasted until his retirement in 1990. Although working primarily in New York City, John worked and lived for six years each in Brussels and in Hong Kong. After retirement from IBM, he remained in New York until 2000 when he returned to live in Springfield.

At Amherst, John was a member of Phi Delta Theta. He was a deacon of Westminster Presbyterian Church, a member of the Sangamo Club and an active supporter of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the Amherst Alumni Association. He will be missed by all who knew him, at Amherst and elsewhere. There are reminiscences of John by three of our classmates posted on the In Memory section of the Amherst Web site.

Willie McCormick ’50



From Paul Griffiths re John Melin:

       My years with John were the, at first uncertain and later very happy years of Amherst. With Harry Woodman who died last year, we shared a dorm at Pratt. I was newly arrived from Burma via 6 years boarding at a military school and John and Harry helped me find my way in the American college mainstream. The things I recall about the John of those years are his quiet supportive friendship and his subtle sense of humour. As a trio we spent much time discussing ‘technique’ in Freshman English or going to the flicks after dinner. John’s interests at Amherst beyond our shared classes included theatre and The Glee Club. ( John made it into The Glee Club . I didn’t make it past the solo audition.) He was always preparing stuff for Olio often in a panic. In our middle years of career and family before the days of email, text and cheap world travel, our communication was the annual Christmas card. We always enjoyed receiving John’s originally designed cards with their pithy comment on the state of the world. We watched with some envy as he enjoyed an exotic life working in Belgium for IBM. In the eighties as travel distances shrank we caught up in person – in John’s New York brownstone where Lisa Minelli made Arthur in 1981. It was a first taste of an exciting world city for our kids and John helped them make the most of it on a boat on the Hudson River for 4th July celebrations. Later that decade John was a great tour guide for me as we did some genealogical research on foot. His knowledge of New York City was prodigious. This decade began for those of the Class of 1950 with the June gathering for the 50th reunion. It was a wonderful week of remembrance singing college songs or dining in view of Sabrina in a marquee on the lawn near Valentine. John, Harry and I visited with some nostalgia the rooms where we had shared the early days of our adult lives. Now of course all is changed and the rooms are shared by men and women , an idea not even canvassed in the 50s. Our last happy time with John was on a Bill Maloney boat trip down the Danube in 2006. There were 82 Amherst alumni and wives from the years of 1950 and 1951. We were all showing the years a little and John’s health had deteriorated through a bad hospital experience. This did not prevent some great times as we jiggled around on horse drawn jinkies in Rumania or simply relived Amherst glory days singing those songs of another world after dinner as the gorges of Eastern Europe slipped by in the darkness. It is with some sadness that I contemplate the 60th reunion of the Class of 1950 without the presence of my two closest friends, John and Harry. The Amherst years were important to me and the two enduring friendships I acquired there have meant much to me in the ensuing decades. We shall drink to their memory and sing their praises in true Amherst tradition next June - God permitting. Vale John Melin.

—Paul Griffiths ‘50



From Tom Eldredge re John Melin:

Willie and Ray --

I roomed with John our Senior year at Amherst. He was a wonderful roommate, easygoing, kindhearted and ready to help out anytime. After graduation, we did not see each other for about nine years.  I was married, had three children and lived in Menlo Park,  California when John showed up in San Francisco.  We had him down for  Sunday dinner a few times  One weekend, he invited us to his new “digs” for Sunday dinner. It turned out that he had rented a house in Sausalito that was owned by Carol Channing’s parents.  What a place! Later he moved to New York City and we saw each other a few times. One of his favorite stories took place when he was in Belgium.  On a Christmas Eve, he went to a church service in a small church outside of Brussels.  He was late and had to stand In back. Two men approached him and asked him to move over so a lady could see the ceremony.  John moved, looked at the lady and realized that she was the Queen of Bel-gium.  Afterward, he said he and the Queen attended church together. John is missed by all who knew him.

—Tom Eldredge ‘50


From Ed Rowen re John Melin: 

John was a good friend and traveling companion on many Amherst overseas trips. We were his house guest in Belgium when he was there with IBM, and shared many lunches in NYC and CT. He was the perfect Program Chairman of our 45th and 50th reunions. On a Canadian Rockies trip in '91 we inadvertently did something hilariously inane which made John comment that we behaved like a Laurel and Hardy skit. From that day until the end he called me Ollie and I called him Stanley