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DONALD C. MELBY
Donald C. Melby, born July 16, 1922 in Klamath Falls, Oregon, passed away Sunday, October 8, 2006 at his residence in Santa Maria.
Don Melby loved to read obituaries. He often said that he learned more about peoples' lives from their obits than he did while they were still alive. He wanted his obituary to be interesting and entertaining and he left reams of notes supplying stories of his life to be used as reference.
Don, christened Donald Chester Melby, (he hated his middle name) was born on July 16, 1922, in Klamath Falls, Oregon, to watchmaker Arnold Martin Melby and Jennie Fylling Melby. "They were both full blooded Norwegians, "as Don was proud of saying. The family moved to Lompoc in 1922 where his sister, Karen, was born in 1933. Don spent his elementary school years in Lompoc. As he told us, his favorite grades were Kindergarten, where he excelled in taking naps, and eighth grade where he learned to dance. The family moved to Santa Maria in 1936 where the first Melby's Jewelers was established (cost: $10.00) at 116 North Broadway, and later was moved to 109 W. Main. Don attended high school and junior college in Santa Maria. He was very active in student government, drama and writing for the school paper, "The Breeze." He worked part time in the jewelry store.
In 1942, Don enlisted in the Air Force and served active duty in 1943-1944. He was a pilot of multi-engine airplanes in the 437th Troop Carrier Group near Paris, France. His unit followed General Patton across Germany, where they hauled in gasoline carried in 5 gallon "Jerry cans" and brought back repatriated prisoners.
After the war, he married his long-time sweetheart, Joyce Jensen of Lompoc and went to work in earnest for Melby's Jewelers. He often reminisced that he "quit once and was fired twice" during his jeweler's apprenticeship. His three children, Maureen, Margaret Ann and Mark were born in "quick succession" between 1945 and 1951.
During the late 1950's, Don became a partner in the jewelry store and later became the owner when his father died in 1965. He went on to become a Registered Gemologist with the American Gem Society and was elected to the California Jewelry Association Board where he served as President in 1963. He was a member and two year president of the Santa Maria Elementary School Board. Don became a Mason and joined the Rotary Club in 1952. His goal in Rotary was to "live long enough to be a 50 year member," which he attained in 2002. He was "proud to be a Rotarian" and wished that everyone would live by the Rotary "4 Way Test" because the "world would be a better place." Don was awarded a plaque by Rotary designating January 28th as Don Melby Day.
Meanwhile, Melby's Jewelers continued to flourish and expand. Don remembered the first storewide sale in 1971 where "we did as much business in one day as we did the first year I was in the store." During these years, Melby's was expanded in size to include a gift shop and sterling silver room. In 1975, son Mark came into the business. Don retired in 1987 after 43 years, and Mark took over. Don enjoyed retirement and his days with Joyce and his family "were full."
Some of Don's favorite recollections: "Model T Fords came in black only. No starter. You cranked it." "Gasoline pumps had glass cylinder tops and were gravity fed through a hose to the car." "Roads were mostly gravel and dust. Water trucks were used to keep the dust down." "Ball point pens sold like 'hot cakes'." However, they leaked and ruined many shirts. Don was an avid golfer and member of the Santa Maria Country Club for over 50 years. Don was an active member of the Harvest Church of Arroyo Grande.
Don is survived by daughters and sons-in-law Maureen and Don Loster of Santa Barbara and Margaret and Marvin Miller of Nipomo, son Mark Melby of Santa Maria, sister and brother-in-law Karen and Doug Hitchen of Arroyo Grande, grandchildren - Kate Loster of Los Angeles, Beth Loster of San Francisco, Matthew Loster of Santa Barbara, Aaron and Amanda Sturges-Melby of Santa Maria, Alexander Melby of Santa Maria, Julie and John Page of Zionville, North Carolina, Jolene and Steve Henry of Nipomo, as well as nine great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. Don also leaves behind special lifelong friends.
Don was preceded in death by his wife Joyce J. Melby who passed away on December 21, 1999, and three grandchildren - Melby Lynn Loster, Donald and Luke Loster.
Of his own death, Don jokingly said to put on his tombstone, near the etching of the Melby Clock, "His time ran out." Don was a man greatly admired and loved by all who knew him. We will miss the gentle-man that he was . . . and we hope that this obituary pleases him!
A funeral service will be held for Don in the Chapel of the Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary on Saturday, October 14, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. with Pastor Steve Henry of the Harvest Church of Arroyo Grande officiating. Burial will follow in the Santa Maria Cemetery with Pastor Steve Henry officiating. Military Honors will be provided by Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Visitation will take place Friday, October 13, 2006 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary.
In honor of Don's request, contributions may be made to the "Melby Family Memorial Scholarship Fund," c/o the Hancock Foundation, P. O. Box 5170, Santa Maria, California 93456, or to the Harvest Church, 124 West Branch Street, Arroyo Grande, California 93420.
Arrangements are under the direction of Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary and Crematory.
Mortuary & Crematory