Obituary, Claytus E. Melcher

Claytus E. Melcher, 94, of St. Petersburg, Fla., formerly Clear Lake, died Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006 at the Laurellwood Nursing Home, St. Petersburg. Funeral services were Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Clear Lake United Methodist Church with the Rev. Diana Hoover officiating. Interment was in the Clear Lake Cemetery with military honors by the Clear Lake V.F.W. Family suggests memorial to the Claytus E. Melcher memorial fund.
Claytus Eben Melcher was born June 19, 1912 in Garner, Iowa, the son of Lewis R. and Mattie M. (Johnson) Melcher. He graduated from Garner High School.
He and Ferne F. Brooks were married in East Orange, N.J. on June 13, 1934. Early in their marriage he was a salesman for the Peoples Gas and Electric Company in Mason City, Iowa. In the opening years of World War II, Claytus worked on the Al-Can Highway in Alaska and on U.S. military construction projects in the Hudson Bay area of Canada.
When he returned to the United States, he joined the Navy and served as an electrician on the USS Stephen Potter in the South Pacific for almost two years. During this time, his ship was engaged in several large naval battles with the Japanese forces in the South China Sea. His ship was in the task force near Okinawa when the USS Franklin and the USS Enterprise were hit by kamikazes in March 1945 and later was engaged in the rescue of survivors from the USS Bunker Hill when it was hit in May 1945.
During his lifetime he was a finish carpenter and a cabinet maker, working for many contractors in the area. He also worked as a millwright on the ICBM missile sites in South Dakota. When he retired in 1979, he and Ferne began spending their winters in St. Petersburg, moving there permanently in 2001.
Claytus was one of Clear Lake’s best known and most successful fishermen for many years, a hobby he later pursued with considerable zeal in Florida. He was also an avid hunter. He enjoyed gardening and spending time with his family. He and Ferne spent many years traveling with their Avion trailer throughout the Midwest. He was a charter member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Clear Lake; a 62-year member of the Masonic Lodge, including a stint as Worshipful Master of Verity Lodge in Clear Lake; a member of El Kahir Temple of the Shrine in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; a member of the Order of the Eastern Star; and a member of the United Methodist Church of Clear Lake.
Claytus is survived by his wife of 72 years, Ferne; their daughter, Linda M. Neese, St. Petersburg; a son, Mark L. (Ivy) Melcher, Mt. Jackson, Va.; five grandchildren, Julia Schipper, Thomas Schipper, Mark (Carol) Melcher, Paula (Mark) Johnson, Deborah (Michael) Murphy; and seven great-grandchildren.
Claytus is preceded in death by his parents, Lewis and Mattie Melcher; sister, Leota DeVary and granddaughter, Marsha M. Schipper
Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapel, Clear Lake. was in charge of arrangements.’06obits/sept_06.html

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