In Memory of Rex E. Melton

December 4, 1921 – March 13, 2010

Rex E. Melton, the fifth of six children, was born on a farm in Ozark, Missouri in 1921.  His father died during the Depression when Rex was 12.  He took on odd jobs to help support the family, working in a cheese factory, cracking black walnuts, and shooting rabbits for the local market.

Melton entered the University of Missouri in 1939.  He was dating Margie Maddox at the time, and they married in 1942. That same year he joined the Army Air Corps.  He was a First Lieutenant in the 454th Bombardment Group, piloting B-24 aircraft in the European and Mediterranean theatres where he flew 24 missions and was decorated with a Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters.  He completed his B.S. degree in agriculture in 1946.

Melton earned a Master of Forestry in forest entomology at the University of Michigan in 1947, and that year was hired by Penn State Mont Alto.  He taught dendrology, surveying, mensuration, and forest practices at Mont Alto from 1947 to 1955, and also taught at Blue Jay Camp from 1948 to 1954.  In 1955 he became resident forester at the 6,300-acre Stone Valley Experimental Forest in Huntingdon County, and served as director of the forest until 1978.  In 1966 he relocated to Ferguson Building at University Park to resume teaching and to help administer instructional programming.  He edited the alumni newsletter from 1974 until 1988, when he retired as professor emeritus after 41 years of service.

Melton’s devotion to academic advising and personal counseling of students was formally recognized in 1988 when he was awarded the Excellence in Academic Advising Award by the College of Agriculture Alumni Society.  Alumni have also honored him by endowing a Founder’s Tree in the Mont Alto Arboretum.  Melton was an elected Fellow in the Society of American Foresters, and a Golden Member.

Melton pursued many hobbies during his life.  He tied his own fishing flies, hunted, played the harmonica, and practiced beekeeping, woodworking, and leather craft.  He loved gardening, birds, music, and his family.

Melton was preceded in death by Margie, his wife of 63 years, and is survived by four children and their spouses, five married grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Contributions can be made to:  Rex Melton Memorial Fund, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Penn State University, 3400 Discovery Road, Petersburg, PA 16669

MeltonStoryCoverPageRex Melton’s family kindly shared his autobiography with us.  Thanks to the efforts of Ralph Heilig and Sanford Smith, the autobiography, complete with photos and an addendum of memorial tributes, is now available as a .pdf file.  If you access this file, we ask that you consider making a donation in Rex Melton’s memory to Shaver’s Creek (info above) if you have not already done so.

To all who knew and respected Rex Melton:  

Following Rex’s death, his family very generously donated a small collection of the flies that Rex had tied.  Chuck Strauss volunteered his time and talent to construct a shadow box and mount the flies as a tribute to Rex.

MeltonShadowBoxIt is our desire to offer this collection for sale to the highest bidder.  Thus, we are using the RESOURCES newsletter to alert as many as possible about this one-of-a-kind memento of a beloved professor, friend, sportsman, and patriot.

If you are interested in bidding on the collection you are invited to prepare a sealed written bid and mail it to Ralph Heilig, 532 Briar Lane, Chambersburg, PA 17202.  The bid opening will be held Friday, October 22, at 11:30 a.m. at my residence.  Bidders are invited to be present at the bid opening.

Bids less than $75 will not be considered.

Bidders should include the bid amount, name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (if available).  The successful bidder will be notified by e-mail, phone, or USPS as soon as possible and will have five business days to make payment.

100% of the successful bid amount will be given to the Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, in memory of Rex Melton.

--Ralph Heilig ‘58