Melba Lee Waters was born into a blended family of Welchs and Yanceys on November 15, 1929, just as the Great Depression was beginning, in the tiny west Texas town of Farwell. Her mother and father were both widowed at a young age and they met through their sons and soon married.
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The Yancey family moved to Albuquerque to find work when she was young. When Melba was about three years old, her oldest sibling and only sister, Lora, died at the age of 17.
In 1941, when Melba was 12, the family moved to Long Beach, California. She and Bill went to Jordan High School. After graduation, Melba attended a nearby junior college for a few years, taking courses in secretarial skills and photography.
Through those years she had the blessing of a strong church youth group that became her life long friends.
When Melba was in her young twenties, she moved to Colorado with her parents and two of her brothers for a new start. There, she met Dwight Waters on horseback. Dwight's sister, Marilyn, had a crush on Melba's nephew, Randy, and somehow they got Dwight and Melba together. After a 3-month whirlwind courtship they married over Thanksgiving in 1950. They moved to Seattle, where Dwight had some property, a job and good friends.
Lee Ann was born in October, 1951 and by 1952 they moved closer to family in Long Beach where they added Dorthy in December of 1953 and Todd in April of 1957. Motherhood was natural for Melba, who loved being home with a house full of children.
When Dwight retired from Sully Miller as a member of the operating engineers union, he and Melba moved to Auburn, California to enjoy a slower pace and to be with dear friends who had also retired in the area. They spent these blessed years in the garden, camping and fishing, cultivating the Auburn Church of Christ, traveling to see wonderful parts of the world and see their family, caring for others, making jelly, and getting the most out of each day. Dwight died in a car accident in 2001 on Highway 49 at Lone Star Road and Melba continued to live life fully, even with the immense void left in Dwight's absence.
She leaves behind a world that won't be the same without her, including a community of friends, neighbors, traveling companions, fellow gardeners, composters, church members and nature lovers. She is survived by her children: Dorthy Courtney, Lee Ann Thornton and husband Gary, and Todd Waters and wife Deanna. She is also survived by her grandchildren: and great-grandchildren, Taylor Waters, Andy Courtney and his wife Melissa, Lora Courtney, Chelsea Buchholtz and her husband Scott, Megan Srygley and her husband Douglas and their two children, Jane and Fletcher. She is preceded in death by her husband of nearly 51 years, Dwight, her son-in-law, John Courtney, and many beloved family members and friends.
Published in Gold Country Media Newspapers from Nov. 24 to Dec. 25, 2013