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Terry R. Melton

November 20, 1934 - September 8, 2019

Terry R. MeltonTerry Melton was born in Gooding, Idaho at the county hospital, later replaced by a Safeway Store. His parents were a superior couple; Omar and Loyce Melton, and he had an elder sister, Janice, all of them now gone. He married Glenda Smith of Caldwell, Idaho and they had 13 years together producing a son, Robert and a daughter Noelle. He never really got to know quite well-enough his beautiful daughter. His son was his best friend.

If his believer friends were correct he is now hobnobbing with either God or Allah. If his Jewish friends were right he was just here for a while, awaiting further instruction. If his Buddhist friends were the best predictors, he is currently a butterfly in Tibet. But if returnings are really possible he will likely attempt a re-emergence as a baritone at LaScala.

He was a painter for more than fifty years. He had paintings and graphics in seven museum collections. He wrote prose, poetry and art essays. He served two years in the U.S. Army. He took a B.A. degree from Idaho State and an MFA degree from the University of Oregon. Later, he was the director of the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, the director of the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, the director of the Oregon Arts Commission, ten years as representative for the National Endowment for the Arts, the director of the Western States Arts Federation then based in Santa Fe, and finally, the director of an odd little art and science museum in an odd little Rio Grande Valley town in that exceedingly odd State of Texas. He received awards from Idaho State University, the University of Oregon, and the Montana Arts Council.

He loved beautiful women; some very close-to-enough and some a bit too much. Regrets were minimal. He adhered to the painter Ad Reinhardt's admonishment that "Art is art: Everything else is everything else." He remained grateful that agreeable spirits and elements allowed him time on the planet with family, particular friends, painting, writing and dry martinis.

And at long last he encountered the real love of his life; a painter, a woman of civility, a social philosopher, a paradigm of beauty.

Lastly, He would suggest that you, reader of this notice, purchase a painting or sculpture from a serious artist, live with it for a while, then give it to a worthwhile museum in honor of a best friend or lover or both.

No public services are planned. Donations would be gratefully accepted to the soon-to-be TR MELTON AWARD at the University of Oregon, Eugene, or the St. Francis Shelter, Salem, Or

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Guest Book Entries

I loved him and appreciated his perspective about life! He will be greatly missed and forever held
in high esteem.
Thank you Terry for being you! 
Rest In Peace!

I have a beautiful lithograph of Terry Melton given to me in 1965 by his friend, and artist, Tom Blodgett.  Terry is lying in the grass, and blowing on a dandelion seed head for his young son.   

My tribute and respect to a great man of the arts in the Western United States. As a young man, he was the founding director of the Yellowstone Art Center/Museum in Billings, Montana, and in many important ways set the agenda for the museum, championing with limited resources the work and careers of two great Montana Modernist painters, Isabelle Johnson and Bill Stockton. Later directors, curators and patrons would see to it that these artists works, and many others, were collected in depth and granted due recognition. As a curator at the Yellowstone, beginning nearly two decades after his tenure, I always was aware of the impact of his work, and appreciated my personal encounters with him through the years. The scale and impact of his work grew geographically from the beginnings of his career in Billings, but we remember him best for the important work he did here. 
My condolences to his family and friends.
Gordon McConnell
Assistant Director, Yellowstone Art Center/Museum, 1982-1998

Terry Melton--a fine artist, a man of ideas, a inspirational leader, and a real character.

Terry and Glenda were important friends of my parents, Edward "Ray" Fechtel and Jewell Reagan Fechtel while they all lived in Pocatello, Idaho.  I believe Terry worked for my Dad when he was getting his early education, either at Fargo's or my Dad's short-lived shoe store.  My father moved to Oregon to complete Law School and shortly thereafter, Terry also moved to Oregon to complete his MFA so their friendship grew in two places.  For most of my early life, a painting of a Lava ridge outside Pocatello graced the wall by our dining room table, one of Terry's early paintings that I hope my Dad's second wife, Mary Fechtel, still owns.  I have seldom loved a painting so much, I missed Idaho terribly after we moved and so Terry's painting was art that held all those feelings for me.

The best illustration of what a character Terry was and how beloved by our family was when my brother Scot graduated from high school in Eugene Oregon, the only gift he wanted was a bus ticket to go visit Terry in Montana.

I loved the obituary, so true to the man I remember, his art lives on and those lives he touched deeply, like ours, will hold him dearly as long as we live.

Kim Fechtel
Arlington MA

As one of Terry's successors as head of the Yellowstone Art Museum, I was overjoyed by how open, supportive, and frank Terry was.  He defended the ideals of a cultural organization, yet was pragmatic about the means to reach goals.  He had a sense of humor to help all who shake their heads over the meanness of life get through another day with a feeling of accomplishment.  I am so sorry to have missed sending him his annual birthday toast.