Melvin "Mel" Franklin Westerfield of Brandon, MS, died on the 23rd day of December 2013. He was sixty-five (65) years old. Visitation will be held on Fri. Dec. 27, 2013 from 10am-2:15pm at Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Brandon, MS. Funeral Services are 2:30pm Fri. Dec. 27, 2013 at the funeral home with burial to follow in the Crestview Memorial Gardens in Brandon, MS.
Mel is the son of Floyd and Willie Mae Westerfield, and he was born in the Scott County Hospital in Morton, MS on January 17, 1948.
His father, Floyd Westerfield, died in 2004. His mother, Willie Mae Westerfield, survives him and currently resides in Morton, MS.
Mel is survived by his three sisters, Eloise Coward and Hilda Bradshaw, both of Morton, MS, and Alaine Waggoner of Brandon, MS, and one brother, Glen Westerfield of Brandon, MS. Mel and his brother were taught at very early ages the value of hard work and the need for a strong work ethic. His father introduced them to his trade of home building at very early ages. This played a big role in Mel's life, as he always strived hard, worked hard and gave every task his best, just as he was taught by his father.
Mel graduated from Morton High School in 1966, where he was fortunate to have coaching mentors like Dale Brasher, Jack Taylor, Kenneth Gordon, Gaines Massey and Bobby Jones. He became a standout football team member for the Morton Panthers in the Little Dixie Conference, receiving multiple awards for his leadership and stellar play.
Mel graduated from East Central Junior College in 1968. While at East Central, he made some of his best lifetime friends. He was also a running back for the Warriors football team.
In 1970, he graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and Marketing.
In 1987, Mel obtained a Masters Degree in Banking from Louisiana State University School of Banking.
Mel married Deborah Black of Morton, MS, on August 30, 1970. Mel and Deborah (also known as "Debbie") dated for more than five (5) years and have been married for forty-three (43) years. Mel loved to joke with his friends and tell them that he has taken care of Deborah much longer than her parents. Mel and Deborah have two children. Their son, Brad Westerfield, is thirty-six (36) and resides in London, England, where he works as a tax lawyer for the law firm of Butler Snow. Their daughter, Kimberly Perry, is thirty-nine (39) and resides in Oxford, MS, where she works as a nurse practitioner for the University of Mississippi. Kim is married to Dr. Michael Perry.
The joy of Mel and Deborah's life came from spending time and attending events with their three grandchildren, Sarah McConnell Perry, John West Perry and Anna Reed Perry. The grandchildren will forever remember their Papa Westerfield because of the time he devoted to each of them and the interest that he paid to every event of their lives.
Mel's work career started in 1970 with Ford Motor Credit Company. He worked his way from an entry-level position to one of the top positions as Credit Manager. He started a banking career in 1977, when he joined the then Mississippi Bank. He started as manager of the auto-finance division. In 1979, he was promoted to Vice President to head the Retail Division of the bank. Mel had a natural instinct for banking which propelled his career. Mel loved to tell friends and clients that he had changed jobs five times and had never left his desk. That was due to the mergers and acquisitions that took place over the course of his career. The Mississippi Bank became Sunburst Bank, Sunburst Bank become Union Planters Bank, Union Planters Bank become Regions Bank, and finally Regions Bank and Am-South merged. Mel retired from banking in December 2006. He held multiple positions over the course of his banking career. At the time of his retirement, he was an Executive Vice President and held the position of Chief Credit Officer for the State of Mississippi. Even to this day, bankers who worked with Mel Love to tell stories of him and, more especially, of his "Melisms." At a moments notice, Mel had an uncanny ability to think of a parable, metaphor or example to make his point - they seemed to be automatic for him. The "Melisms" always appealed to logic, facts and evidence. He was a rational thinker. He treasured the many friendships that he made with colleagues and clients from the bank.
After retiring, Mel devoted a lot of time to his grandchildren. Each grandchild baited his or her first hook with Papa. One by one, they would come for a week visit of what Mel described as "boot camp." He remembered his own experiences as a young man and wanted his grandchildren to understand responsibility, gain character and experience the satisfaction fro a job well done.
Mel's other enjoyable activities included golfing, gardening and attending or watching sporting events. However, the one thing that he enjoyed most was a week in the Louisiana marshes catching redfish and trout. The walls of his man cave, known as "The Shop" behind his home bear the evidence of many of his fishing adventures.
Over his lifetime, Mel was involved in many community activities and a member of his various social clubs. He particularly enjoyed his Jackson Exchange Club membership. He was a Past Master of Tyrian Lodge 427, Brandon, MS in 1980. He was a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts and involved himself in many other worthy causes such as Habitat for Humanity and the Mustard Seed Group Home.
Mel and Deborah are founding members of Brandon Baptist Church. Mel had served on the Stewardship Committee and was an active member of the Max Gilliland Sunday School Class.
His friends, relatives and family will miss Mel dearly. He is truly loved. He was a humble individual who never forgot his roots. He had a winsome personality and if you did not know him, but you had the opportunity to talk with him from five minutes, you would have likely just made a new friend.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, that you consider a contribution to the Brandon Baptist Church Building Fund or the
Published in Clarion Ledger on Dec. 25, 2013
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