Bennie J. Melvin (1920 - 2014)

Obituary
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  • "My deepest condolences. I am Bennie's cousin, Beverly Lane,..."
    - Beverly Lane
  • "Our sincerest sympathy to the family from your friends at..."
    - Cognosante
  • "I used to visit with Bennie when he came into Super Bear...."
    - Cheri
  • "Many of my fondest memories are of being up the Berners..."
    - Ron Haffner
  • "Deepest sympathy to the family. The loving kindness of God..."
    - Lewis
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Alaskan pioneer and Juneau resident, Bennie J. Melvin passed away September 4, 2014 with his daughters, Melanie and Mechelle ("Mikie") Melvin, at his side. He was 94 years old. A true Alaskan pioneer, Bennie was born May 30, 1920 in Teller, AK to Edna and Benjamin Melvin. The family mined for gold in Teller, later moving to the Juneau area while Bennie was still a boy. Bennie was raised on an island in Auke Bay that his parents leased from the state and dubbed "Suedla Island" (which was a combination of female family names: Susan, Edna and Lyla). Foxes were raised by the family for income from the pelts. His mother was a homemaker and his father worked in the old Perseverance Mine in Juneau. The remains of the fox cages can still be seen on the island today. He spent his childhood hunting, fishing and trapping. One of Bennie's favorite pastimes was to regale his family with stories of the past and he delighted in telling his grandchildren how he had to be up before sunrise to do his chores then row his boat to the end of Fritz Cove Road and walk from there to Auke Lake in order to catch the school bus.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in WWII, Bennie served his country from Dec 5, 1941 to Dec 4, 1945 as a Sergeant and Crew Chief supervising the inspection, maintenance and repair of the aircraft. He was also a flight engineer and logged 500 hours on B25 and B24 aircraft and received a commendation from the P80 Jet School in San Bernadino, CA as well as a number of Marksman and Sharpshooter Medals. Bennie completed high school in 1941 and received his diploma before joining the service.
He married his one and only true love, Lois "Peachie" Fossum. Bennie and Peachie enjoyed camping, picnicking and fishing on their boat with their young daughters. They built their family home in Juneau by hand. Peachie and Bennie had a fun and busy social life. Getting together with friends for pinochle night was a favorite for them. Bennie worked for Juneau Ready Mix for many years driving a cement mixer truck and helping to lay building foundations, many of which are landmarks in Juneau such as the Visitor Center at the Mendenhall Glacier. He retired from Juneau Ready Mix. Bennie and Peachie were married until she lost her struggle with cancer in April 1977. After Peachie's death, he traveled to the Seattle area to pick up his new boat which he named the Legal Tender. He hand-trawled for a living for many years with his fishing buddy and longtime friend, Mick Haffner, also of Juneau.

A dedicated hunter and fisherman, he was happiest outdoors. A loving grandfather, Bennie took his grandchildren camping, fishing and boating. He also fished and hunted with his friends, co-owning air boats and a cabin, and saving one of their lives when he shot an attacking bear during a hunting trip.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Mae Lewin, and is survived by his daughters, Mechelle Rose Melvin and Melanie Ann Melvin of Juneau; his grandchildren, Taj Alene Melvin of Tacoma; Brandan Lee Melvin, Liberty Ann Hoffman and Tana Marie Bell of Juneau and his great-grandchildren, Fern Youngblut, Isabell Bryan, Dalton Youngblut and Lola Youngblut of Juneau.

A graveside memorial service will be held in October. The date, time and location will be announced.
Published in The Juneau Empire on Oct. 1, 2014
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