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MELVIN STANLEY "MEL" SJERVEN


1921 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
MELVIN STANLEY "MEL" SJERVEN Obituary
MELVIN (MEL) STANLEY SJERVEN Melvin Stanley Sjerven, 93, a distinguished agribusiness journalist, worker for justice and beloved father, grandfather and great- grandfather, died Monday, July 28, 2014 in Overland Park, Kansas. Mel was born to Oscar Melvin and Susanna Marie Sjerven in Bristol, in northeastern South Dakota, on February 19, 1921. He as the fourth of eight children, and was the last of that generation to die. Mel's family was poor, although they knew those who were yet poorer. His father was the manager of a rail line grain elevator. All the Sjerven children had household chores and at the same time were expected to work to supplement the family income. In the home, Mel cooked breakfast for his four younger siblings before they headed to school. He had a knack for baking angel food cake. He loved making and sharing food, simple or grand, his entire life. To help support the family, Mel worked at the elevator. He said later, "I remember coopering cars, shoveling coal (for 15 cents a ton), sweeping the workroom and, worst of all jobs, cleaning out the (grain) pit after it rained. What a stinky job!" Mel was a musician, a pianist. One of his fondest memories was of when his parents bought a piano for $65 and surprised him with it. He played for his parents and siblings, and for the town's teenagers, who came to the Sjerven house to dance. Mel was an outstanding student at Bristol High School, where he was graduated at the top of his class in 1939. He was awarded a scholarship by Macalester College in St. Paul. But World War II intervened, and Mel joined the U.S. Army in September 1942, serving in the Quartermaster Corps. Toward the end of the war, he served in the western Pacific, mostly on the island of Saipan. He left military service in 1946 and returned to his prewar job at Snell Sash & Door in St. Paul, where he met Ione Odelia Morkre, the love of his life. Ione and Mel were married in November 1947 and shared the rest of their lives with each other. While both Ione and he worked, Mel enrolled in the University of Minnesota, from which he received a bachelor's degree in education. He began his career in journalism by joining The Grain Bulletin, which published a daily price sheet reflecting values established on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. He was assistant manager at the Bulletin when he began "stringing" for the Southwestern Miller, predecessor of Milling & Baking News. He gradually increased his correspondent activities with that publication, becoming manager of the Minneapolis office in the early 1960s. He was asked to come to Kansas City in 1968, the year of the death of David N. Sosland, one of the magazine's founders. Given the title initially of assistant editor and soon after senior editor of markets, he became intimately involved in helping to map the direction of Milling & Baking News. He retired from Sosland Publishing Company at the end of 1989.Mel was happy in this work and was much loved and respected by his colleagues. In recognition of his many years as a trusted friend and confidante of so many in the industry of breadstuffs, Mel was named a lifetime honorary member of the Millers' National Federation, predecessor of the North American Millers' Association. Mel and Ione were active in the Civil Rights Movement. Mel was president of the Human Relations Council of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, which welcomed African-Americans to live in the community at a time when there were formidable obstacles to open housing. He was active in the American Lutheran Church and served a stint on one of its national boards. "As long as the church was beating the drum for justice and equality, I was there," he once said. In Kansas City, he was active in Metropolitan Lutheran Ministry. He was a member of the charity's advisory board and served a term as president. Mel and Ione in 1971 also were among the founding members of the United Nations Association of Greater Kansas City. Mel was preceded in death by Ione, who passed away August 6, 2013, after nearly 66 years of marriage; his parents, Susanna Marie and Oscar Melvin Sjerven; his brothers Oscar, Chester, Duane, Dale and Truman; sisters Agnes Sullivan and Bernice Erickson; and many dear friends. He is survived by his daughter Diane Goulding and son-in-law James Goulding, of Minnetonka, Minnesota; his son Jay Sjerven and daughter-in- law Linda Sjerven, of Leawood, Kansas; his son Jeffrey and daughter-in- law Deborah Sjerven, of Minneapolis; five grandchildren, Annie Goulding Schaber, of Long Lake, Minnesota; Laura Goulding, of Minneapolis; Bret Sjerven, of Brooklyn, New York; Drew Sjerven, of Chicago; and Michael Sjerven, of Minneapolis; and two great-grandchildren, Owen Schaber and Eloise Schaber, of Long Lake. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m., Saturday, August 9, at First Lutheran Church, 6400 State Line Road, Mission Hills, Kansas 66208. Memorial contributions may be sent to Metro Lutheran Ministry, 3031 Holmes, Kansas City, MO, 64109 (http://www.mlmkc.org/Support.html) M
Published in Kansas City Star on Aug. 6, 2014
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