Oakley Webster Melton Jr., 86, passed away peacefully November 10, 2013. He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Melba Studdard Melton and by his children, daughter Ree Smith (Sage); son Oakley Melton III (Diane); daughter Marcia Hudson (Adams); daughter Lee Hayes; and son Ben Melton, plus eight grandchildren: Marlee Terry (William), Sage Smith, Jr. (Ally), Ben Smith, Davis and Bentley Hudson, Stead, Wylie, and Will Hayes, and three great grandchildren: Eleanor, Sally, and Lida Terry. Other survivors include nephews Jim Melton, John and Scott Studdard, Julie and Jed Studdard and Jo Outsama.
Oakley was a lifelong fan of sports. As his coach at Wetumpka High School was drafted to serve in WWII
, Oakley became the youngest high school basketball coach in the nation at age 16. After high school, he went to the University of Alabama where he enrolled in the Specialized Officer Training Program and later trained to become a Navy Pilot. He received an honorable discharge as the war ended, and his patriotism never waned.
He returned to the University of Alabama and was president of the Student Government Association and Kappa Alpha fraternity. He received a B.S. Degree in Accounting and his law degree from the University's School of Law in 1951. Athletics remained true to his heart as he helped negotiate the successful resumption of the "Iron Bowl" game between Auburn and Alabama, which had been cancelled in 1907. Once this famous match-up resumed in 1948, Oakley attended 63 consecutive Iron Bowls, during which time he founded the AAPAC (Alabama-Auburn Perfect Attendance Club.)
Oakley was the founder of the law firm Melton, Espy & Williams, P.C. Due to his work representing other attorneys and judges, Oakley was often known as the "Lawyer's lawyer". He was elected President of the Montgomery County Bar in 1974, then President of the State Bar in 1978. During his term, Oakley successfully proposed mandatory continuing legal education for Alabama lawyers, a program which is still in place today. He was also Chairman of the Supreme Court Advisory committee that created and adopted the current Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. Oakley was a confidant and advisor to five Alabama governors, several lieutenant governors, plus legislators and members of trial and appellate courts. His influence was broad, deep, and carried lasting impact.
Oakley was also legal counsel to the Alabama Soft Drink Association for more than forty years and helped build a trade association so successful that it was modeled across the nation. In 1978, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Alabama Soft Drink Association; and in 1985, he was inducted into the Beverage World Hall of Fame.
Mr. Melton's contributions continued in his community service, representing and serving the YMCA in multiple capacities, also becoming their "Man of the Year" for his selfless devotion. Furthering his model of generosity, he endowed the Oakley W. Melton Scholarship Fund for deserving students at the University of Alabama. Oakley was also a devoted and beloved member of the First United Methodist Church, serving as Chairman of the Administrative Board and Board of Trustees. He loved his Lord and showed that love to others through his generosity and kind spirit.
Memorial Services will be held at the First United Methodist Church on Wednesday, November 13 at 2:00 with Dr. Lawson Bryan officiating. The family will receive friends at the church one hour prior to the service. Active Pallbearers will be Joe Espy III, James E. Williams, J. Flynn Mozingo, Mark Bain, Benjamin Espy, and William Espy. Honorary Pallbearers are Former Governor Albert Brewer, Former Justice Champ Lyons, Past Presidents of the Alabama State Bar, Members of the FUMC Men's Bible Class, Keith Norman, Henry Moore, Reggie Hamner and Walter Byars. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either the Oakley W. Melton Scholarship Fund at the University of Alabama School of Law, P.O. Box 870382, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 or to the First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, 2416 W. Cloverdale Park, Montgomery AL, 36106.