Celand Lawrence “Mel” Melbinger 1914-2017
Celand Lawrence “Mel” Melbinger
Celand Lawrence “Mel” Melbinger, 102, of Owen, passed away on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Aspirus Care and Rehab in Medford.
Mel was born on Nov. 26, 1914 in the Town of Reedsburg, to Joseph and Anna (Erben) Melbinger. He was a graduate of Withee High School. Mel married Lois E. Matthewson on Sept. 14, 1935 at the Congregational Church in Owen. Lois preceded Mel in death in 2002.
Upon completion of high school, Mel’s entrepreneurial characteristics were evident. He was an astute businessman and progressive planner. He ventured into several business opportunities and then wrote the Postal Office exam and became a clerk for the Owen Post Office. While working at the Post Office, he worked for Badger Shooters Supply in Owen. After 10 years of working both positions he then became a full time employee at Badger Shooters Supply. With great tenacity and hard work he expanded the business into an international company and was the CEO until his retirement in 1983.
Mel was also very proud and committed to his community, and was Mayor of Owen for 14 years. During his service, he was instrumental with the growth and decision making for Owen. Primarily expanding industry, ensuring and improving the cities infrastructure and creating the Owen Development Corporation, thus, building the first clinic that housed two medical and two dental doctors. As Mayor, Mel was proud to have had a new water system built in the city. He improved the communities “brick and mortar” on his own by building a grocery store, hardware store, chiropractic office, clinic and post office. He was a life time member of St. Katherine’s Episcopal Church, Owen. For most of his adult life, he held many volunteer and community board positions, Riverside Cemetery board, housing authority implementation, National Rifle Association and a member of the Owen Masonic Lodge # 317. He was a past master and recently received his 70 year membership certificate. At the age of 102, Mel was the oldest living mason in the United States.
In his leisure time, Mel enjoyed outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, gardening, skiing and spending time at his cabin up north. He took pleasure in traveling, especially his Alaskan hunting and fishing adventures. Mel was an avid Green Bay Packer fan and season ticket holder. He was present during the frigid 1967 “Ice Bowl” game between the Packers and Cowboys. Mel loved his wife and family, and enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.
Mel is survived by his children, Jerome (Irene) Melbinger of Madison and Lonnie (Mary) of Medford; grandchildren, Holly (Lance) Tonkinson of Reedsburg, Kimberly Melbinger-Cerutti of El Dorado Hills, Calif., Christopher (Brenda) Melbinger of Ft. Myers, Fla., Dr. Julie (Dr. Peter) Melbinger-Wagner of Mequon, Deborah Melbinger of Shorewood; great-great-grandchildren, Connor, Ella, Claire and Andrew. He is further survived by his very significant caregiver and friend of 15 years, Canice Parnewicz of Owen, and many nieces and nephews.
Mel is further preceded in death by his parents, and brother, Arleigh Melbinger.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 11 at St. Katherine’s Episcopal Church in Owen with Rev. Tony Ring officiating. Burial will follow in Riverside Cemetery, Withee. Pallbearers will be David Blazer, Brian Bredlau, Jack Jalling, Scott Jalling, Jeff Matthewson and Jerry Prepeluh. Honorary pallbearers will be Paul Schmidt, Jim Carlson, Tom Nelson and members of the Owen Masonic Lodge #317. Visitation will be held on Saturday morning at St. Katherine’s Episcopal Church from 10 a.m. until the time of the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in honor of Mel can be given to St. Katherine’s Episcopal Church or to the Medford Aspirus Foundation. Hemer Funeral Service of Medford and Rib Lake has been entrusted with arrangements, online condolences can be left at www.hemerfuneralservice.com.
Always remember Mel’s advice during hard times “it will pass.”