Melven graduated from Ball State Teacher’s College in Muncie, IN, earning his tuition by driving an ambulance on the night shift. He joined the Navy in 1942, and spent most of World War II in the Pacific, as a captain on an LST (the 610). He met his wife, Elsie Bume, in Shanghai, China, and they married there in 1947. After leaving the Navy in 1946, Mel worked for the United Nations in Shanghai. In 1949, Mel and Elsie settled in San Francisco, CA, where Mel sold encyclopedias door-to-door and attended graduate school at UC Berkeley. He next worked for the George S. May Co., Calvin and Co., and finally as a self-employed business consultant.
As a young man, Mel was an avid tennis player and played on his college team. He was also known to pick a tune on his banjo. Mel took his family on many car trips, always looking for the interesting side road. He especially liked going to the National Parks in the West and the Southwest. Mel and Elsie enjoyed living in California very much, and eventually his sister, Virginia Swift, his brother, Frank Gilpen, and his mother, Virginia Gilpen Fisher, all moved to California as well. In the early 80′s, Mel and Elsie moved to Sausalito, CA, and when Elsie died in 1993, Mel moved to Fairfax, CA. He came to Seattle in the early 2000′s to be nearer to his daughter, and it was wonderful having him close by and able to be a part of all of the family events. He will be sorely missed.
Mel loved life, and even his hospice team said they had never seen a patient with such a will to partake in life, regardless of the pain. Hopefully his spirit is on a great adventure.
He is survived by his daughter, Leslie Bateman (Peter), his grandson, Matthew Bateman, his brother, Frank Gilpen, two nieces and two nephews and their families. Services will be held this summer in the San Francisco Bay Area.