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Melvin "Mel" Christy

March 1, 1924 - January 23, 2018


Melvin Mel LeRoy Christy died on January 23, 2018 in Salem, OR, just weeks short of his 94th birthday. He was born March 1, 1924 in the family farmhouse in Garrison, Iowa to John and Edith Culp Christy. He was the fifth of six children: Glenn, Velma, Mildred, Merlin, and Lloyd. As a child, he enjoyed roaming the woods with his dog on the family farm, along with farm work. He attended a one-room schoolhouse and graduated from Garrison High School and Gates Business College in Waterloo, Iowa. He enlisted in the Army in 1944 and served in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy during World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery. The GI bill enabled him to attend college, the first in his family. He graduated from McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas, in 1949 with a degree in Industrial Arts.

 Mel met his wife, Mary Jo Dell, in 1946 at the Church of the Brethren Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa. They were married May 28, 1948 in McPherson, Kansas. The couple lived in Castañar, Puerto Rico; McPherson, Kansas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Marshalltown, Iowa; Salem, Oregon; and Dallas, Oregon. They have three daughters: Vicky van Santen, Lori Christy, and Trudy McKinnell.

 Mel had various trade jobs in McPherson, Kansas, including owning and operating Christy Sheet Metal & Electric. In 1967 he began working for Lennox Industries, Inc. as a field service consultant with a territory in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. He worked his way up through the ranks to Assistant Sales Manager for the Midwest Division in Marshalltown, Iowa, and retired in 1989 after 22 years with the company.

 Mel had a wide range of interests including singing, bicycling, woodworking, golfing, writing, genealogy, learning languages, travel, flying as a private pilot, and designing, building and repairing anything. He and Mary Jo especially enjoyed travelling after retirement. Highlights included touring Europe on their tandem bicycle with friends, spending ten winters in Costa Rica interacting with local residents in a remote area, and visiting Peru with Compassion International.  Mel had a serving heart and he used many of his interests in his life-long volunteering in service to church and community. Service to church included being a deacon and elder, teaching Sunday school, and singing in the choir. Early on he and Mary Jo served as missionaries and teachers in Puerto Rico. Years later he served as a Spanish language interpreter at Marshalltown Hospital in Iowa and at a local church, the president of the Iowa Chapter of Healing the Children, and a medical mission volunteer in Honduras. He helped restore historical signs in the state of Oregon and carve figures for the carousel in Riverfront Park in Salem, Oregon. He thrived on using his handyman skills to help others in as many ways as possible. He helped anybody who asked him to do anything. Even after moving to Dallas Retirement Village, he continued to volunteer by transporting residents, operating the village store, and writing for the village newspaper.

He leaves behind his wife of nearly 70 years, Mary Jo; three daughters: Vicky van Santen, and husband Edzard, of Auburn, Alabama; Lori Christy of Salem, Oregon; and Trudy McKinnell and husband James of Salem, Oregon; six grandchildren: Christina Hierath and husband Tilman of Berlin, Germany; Jakob van Santen and wife Anna of Berlin, Germany; Katharina van Santen and husband Matthew Robinson, of Atlanta, Georgia; Kelsey Preuit and husband August of Albany, Oregon, Kathryn McKinnell of Goshen, Indiana, and Skye McKinnell of Salem, Oregon; and four great-grandchildren: Carl and Conrad Hierath and Peter and Paul van Santen.

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Querido mel algun dia nos encontraremos. Agradezco a la vida haberte conocido. Disfrute mucho tus venidas a nuestro pais y el tiempo q pasamos juntos. Tambien disfruramos muchosimo cuando nos invitaron a disfrutar navidad en su casa en iowa. Gracias por tu amistad y cariño. Siempre te recordare

"Dear Mel, one day we will meet. I thank life for having known you. Enjoy your coming to our country and the time we spent together. We also enjoyed many times when they invited us to enjoy Christmas at their home in iowa. Thanks for your friendship and affection. Will always remember you"



Dear Mary Jo and Family,
     Condolences for the loss of your beloved husband and father, Mel.  Thank you for sharing this with your church family in Marshalltown. I remember Mary Jo's face vividly and hope she's is very doing well. 

All our Best,