NEW BERN - Melvin Ray Johndrow passed away at his home in New Bern on July 23, 2012. Born in Hunter, Okla. on April 13, 1925, Melvin grew up on a farm near Perry, Okla., where he wrestled on the renowned Perry High School wrestling team and graduated in 1943.
After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and attended college at the University of California at Berkley, where he graduated with a business degree in 1947. While at Berkley, he married his high school sweetheart Virginia Wilson of Garber, Okla. They were married in a friend's home overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in 1945.
Mel and Virginia returned to Enid, Okla. to begin a 42 year career with the JCPenney Company that carried them through Shreveport, La., Jackson, Miss., Atlanta, Ga., Norfolk, Va., and New Bern. Melvin opened the New Bern JCPenney store at Twin Rivers Mall in 1979, and retired in May of 1989. Throughout his life he loved traveling, camping, fishing and crabbing. He spent much of his retirement enjoying the waters around Swansboro.
Melvin is survived by his wife of 66 years, Virginia Johndrow; son, Jack Johndrow and wife Kim of Advance; daughter, Jenny Johndrow and husband John Chilton of Portsmouth, Va.; son, David Johndrow and wife Nancy of Raleigh; and son, Jon Johndrow and wife Marcia of New Bern. Also surviving are granddaughter Heather Murphy and husband Scott of Chesapeake, Va., granddaughter Caroline Johndrow of Raleigh, and great-grandsons Noah and Will Murphy, of Chesapeake, Va. Melvin is also survived by sister Enid Heppler and husband Bernard of Perry, Okla. and brother Robert Johndrow and wife Veda of Winfield, Kan.
Services will be held July 26 at 2 p.m. at Cotten Funeral Home, 2201 Neuse Blvd., New Bern. Family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Community Hospice Foundation at chchfoundation.org, or the National Parks and Conservation Association at npca.org.
Arrangements are by Cotten Funeral Home & Crematory.