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Loving Husband, Father, and Grandfather
DRACUT -- On Thursday, March 13, 2014, God called home his loyal and faithful servant, Francisco Melendez. He passed peacefully at Lowell General Hospital's Saints Campus, surrounded by his loving family.
Frank, or Paquito, as he was fondly referred to, was born in Canovanas, Puerto Rico on November 12, 1942 to Maria Morales and Jose Melendez. He enjoyed his childhood on his beloved island, climbing mango trees and playing baseball. Upon graduating from high school, he moved to San Antonio, Texas to attend the Nazarene Bible Institute. He ultimately received his Bachelor's degree in Theology and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Nazarene Theological Seminary in San Antonio.
After receiving his degree, Frank moved to Jersey City, NJ where, among other jobs, he worked as a counselor for emotionally disturbed adolescents in the public school system. This was the start of his life-long calling of service. It was here that he met and married the love of his life, Ramona Santos.
In 1972, he was ordained as a Nazarene minister, and followed his calling to Lowell, where he served as Pastor of the Spanish Church of the Nazarene on First Street until 1983. Faith was a supremely important part of his life and sharing that faith was of great importance to him. He shared that faith in many ways, one of which was on a weekly radio show that he hosted called "The Bread of Life."
Along with pastoring the church, Frank was devoted to serving his community. From 1980-1984, he worked at Community Teamwork, Inc. of Lowell as a community organizer and Spanish community advocate. He was a passionate activist, volunteering in many capacities, such as serving as a member on the Coalition for a Better Acre and as a director on the board of UNITAS, where he also served as President. He unabashedly spoke out in support of programs and initiatives to help the Hispanic community of Lowell become more politically active. He took strong public positions on education and housing issues with the focus on fostering a voice for the Hispanic population and community pride. Frank was recognized for his many years of good work, receiving a citation from then Governor Michael Dukakis.
In the 90's, Frank worked as a bilingual therapist for the Human Resource Institute (HRI) in Lowell.
During his ministry, Frank received his MSW from New Hampshire College, which led him to focus on a career with the Department for Children and Families (DSS) in Lowell that started in 1984, until he retired as a family resource supervisor from the Lawrence DCF office in 2010. During his years in the department, he touched the lives of countless children and families. In an article written about him some years ago, the reporter was quoted as saying that "…Reverend Melendez has always responded to those in need of counseling, transportation, in search of employment, or other problems without hesitation. Day or night, Frank answers his phone and responds to the needs of his fellow man. It is this devotion to duty and dedication to serving that make him an outstanding person…"
One of Frank's greatest loves was music. It was no surprise to walk in to his home and hear the sounds of his keyboard or him singing and strumming his guitar. It was a source of great enjoyment and peace for him. He imparted that love of music to his children, who learned to play instruments and loved to sing. There were many Saturday mornings where he would sit with his coffee listening to his records of gospel trios or country music.
Frank's life was centered around the love he had for his family. He was the best father anyone could have to his children, Kristy, Jarred, and Ariana, offering guidance and advice, and being present in all aspects of their lives. He never missed a basketball game, a concert, or recital. He loved to have fun in the pool, building igloos, or at their condo in Weirs, NH. Ten years ago, he was blessed with his greatest source of happiness. Nothing brought a sparkle to his eyes like his four grandchildren, Gabby, Livie, Bella, and Travis. As their "Tortita," he was at every important event. He handled pick ups from school and spent many afternoons singing with them, playing in the backyard, getting his pool ready for the summer, working on words searches, or watching Family Feud. He was in love with his role as a grandfather, and made many lasting memories with his grandchildren.
The very core of Frank as a person was embodied in his marriage to his wife, Ramona. As best friends and each other's greatest supporters, they were truly soul mates. Their life together was a testament to the unwavering faith, dedication, and commitment that each had for the other. It is this legacy of love that his family will treasure most of all.
In addition to his wife, Ramona, of 43 years, he is survived by his 3 children and 4 grandchildren; daughter Kristy Meuse of Lowell, son Jarred Melendez of Dracut, and daughter Ariana Melendez of Groton; granddaughters Gabriella, Olivia, and Isabella Meuse and grandson Travis Francisco Knight; son-in-law Gary Meuse of Hudson, NH; sisters-in-law, Maria Sparks and her husband John of Rockwall, TX, Migdalia Cardona of Nashua, NH, Yolanda Rodriguez of Lowell, Jacqueline Ojeda and her husband Angel of Orlando, FL, Yvette Nina and her husband Alex of Lowell, and Marilyn Santos of Lowell; brother-in-law, Juan Santos and his wife Wanda of Lawrence; also several beloved nieces and nephews.
He also leaves behind several family members in Puerto Rico.
MELENDEZ -- In Lowell, March 13, 2014 at Lowell General -Saints, Francisco "Frank" Melendez, 71, beloved husband of Ramona (Santos) Melendez, a longtime Dracut resident.
Family and friends may call at the FAY McCABE FUNERAL HOME, 105 MOORE STREET, LOWELL, on TUESDAY from 4 until 8 P.M. Mr. Melendez's Funeral will begin on WEDNESDAY MORNING at 8:30 A.M. from the Funeral Home, followed by his Funeral Service at 10 A.M. at CHRIST CHURCH UNITED, 10 Arlington St. at the corner of Bridge St. DRACUT. Burial will follow in the Lowell Cemetery.
As an expression of sympathy, donations in Frank's memory may be made to the
of Massachusetts, 29 Crafts St., Suite 450, Newton, MA 02458 or at www.arthritis.org/massachusetts/donate
ARRANGEMENTS BY THE FAY McCABE FUNERAL DIRECTORS, 978-459-9222. www.faymccabe.com
Fay McCabe Funeral Home
105 Moore St
Lowell, MA 01852
Published in Lowell Sun on Mar. 16, 2014