George M. Melby, 85, died peacefully in his sleep at home on Friday, May 24, 2013, in Waupaca, WI, of heart failure.
He was born in La Crosse, WI, on May 27, 1927 to George A. and Manda (Jahr) Melby. He grew up on a farm near Ettrick, WI, and attended a one-room grade school at Beach’s Corner until age 15. After high school he enlisted in the army where he served in Japan for two years. After returning he studied at River Falls (State Teachers’ College) where he graduated in 1952. His first teaching position was in Iola, WI, where he taught agriculture for three years. While teaching there he met and later married Jeannette Leean in 1956. George went on to receive a master’s degree at Iowa State Teacher’s College in chemistry. He taught chemistry and physics for 8 years in Waukon and 28 years in Decorah, IA.
George loved to learn and loved to read. He especially enjoyed books about explorers and stories of WWII. He taught himself electronics and later in life collected vintage radios. Another of his hobbies was woodworking. “I never met a piece of wood I didn’t like.” From 1973 until 2003 he and Jean owned and operated Tom Thumb Mini Golf at the Waupaca Chain O’ Lakes. He enjoyed creating new hazards for the course, which became more fun (and admittedly more complex) over the years. He was a very dedicated and respected high school teacher and often heard back from former students who thanked him years later. To his family he was faithful, helpful, and caring. He enjoyed playing board and card games. It was always a pleasure to make him laugh.
He is survived by his wife, Jean, and three daughters: LeAnn Juel (Perry) of Wayzata, MN, and their three sons, Ryan, David, and Mark; June Melby (Tim Lecander) of Decorah, IA; and Carla Melby-Oetken (John) of Iowa City, IA, and two sons, Luke and Ben. And one niece, Sharon (Bob) Kyllo, who was the daughter of George’s twin brother, Gerald. He was preceded in death by his parents, and his twin brother, Gerald, his wife Helen, and their daughter Annette. He quietly lived out his faith with integrity and generosity. George read the Bible every morning, and lately was memorizing Romans 10. “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to: Shepherd of the Lakes Church or Waupaca Library Foundation. The funeral service was held at 3:00 pm, Tues., May 28th, at Shepherd of the Lakes Church, Waupaca, WI. Visitation was 1:00 until 3:00pm at the church. The Maple Crest Funeral Home of Waupaca assisted the family with arrangements.