Sara B. Melson, 1918-2016

Melson, SaraIn loving memory of Sara Blosser Melson, longtime Jefferson resident, who passed away peacefully on Jan. 28, 2016 in Silverdale, WA, with family by her side.

Sara was born on April 3, 1918 at Dunlap, IN, the daughter of Christian Brenneman and Carrie Mae Yoder Blosser. She attended country school and then public schools in Goshen, IN, graduating from high school in 1935.

Her parents were faithful Mennonites, and her father was a professor of biology at Goshen College for some years, but passed away when Sara was in her 20s, much too soon.

Sara moved to Chicago to work in her aunt’s restaurant, The Singing Kettle, and later worked as secretary to the pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church, a large parish in downtown Chicago. She was a young woman in a big city, and fell into several wonderful jobs with mentors who watched out for her. She sang in the choir, and that’s where she met her future husband.

On December 31, 1939 she was united in marriage to Eugene Randall Melson (Gene) at their beloved Fourth Church, and they began their long loving life together that spanned almost 60 years.

In March 1942 the family moved from Downers Grove, IL, to Kansas City, MO, and in October, 1943, when Gene accepted a commission in the Navy, the family moved to Indianola, IA. Gene was away at war in the Pacific for three years. Difficult times indeed, but Sara managed to raise her toddlers with the help of Gene’s parents, and wrote letters every day to her husband with news of the little ones, keeping Gene feeling connected and loved. She attended Simpson College during this time, and received voice training there as well.

When Gene returned from the war in 1946, they lived in Jefferson, where they raised their seven children and lived a full, active life in the community for more than 30 years.

Sara was active in community affairs and church work all her life, but her first love and consideration was for her family. Music was an important part of her life, as she directed young people’s choirs, sang at the First United Methodist Church and with civic groups. She had a lovely, warm alto voice, and was a wonderful musician.

She and Gene raised the family surrounded with good music, parental love and guidance. Besides music, her interests were in reading, sewing and hand work, birds and nature, writing to friends and keeping a journal, and enjoying people wherever she went.

She was active as a Rotary Ann, and compiled and published a Rotary cookbook from 53 clubs in District 6000 for the benefit of the Rotary Foundation. She was a Paul Harris Fellow. Sara was also a member of the women’s philanthropic organization P.E.O., joining in 1944.

After tragically losing their youngest child to an unexpected illness in 1973, Gene gradually retired his law practice and Sara and Gene moved to Poulsbo, WA, to be closer to most of their children and grandchildren. They enjoyed many years together until Gene’s passing in 1998.

Sara continued her love of life and family for another 18 years. Her faith in God was her constant companion. She was most recently a member of Summit Avenue Presbyterian Church in Bremerton, WA, and so loved that community and traditional music program. She lived fully, with Christian morals, a generous spirit, and an open mind to all people. What a gracious gift she was to her family and all who knew her.

Sara was predeceased by her husband Gene, their daughter Christine (Tina), as well as her sibship of three brothers and one sister.

Sara is survived by six children and their progeny, Carrie Lou Hollenbeck (David) of Port Orchard, WA; Stephen John ‘Steve’ Melson, MD (Kathleen) of Seattle, WA; Sara Jean ‘Sally’ Shuster (John) of Port Orchard; Celia Anne ‘Ces’ Brunow (John) of Jefferson; Eugene Randall ‘Gene/Randy’ Melson, Jr. (Yoko) of Southworth, WA; and Cynthia Jane ‘Cindy’ Harris (David) of Bremerton; nine grandchildren, Christopher Melson (Shelby Harris) of Kirkland, WA, Annie Melson of Seattle, WA, Nathaniel Crosswhite of Boston, MA, Kellen Crosswhite of Federal Way, WA, Jessica Holloway (Drew) of Bellevue, WA, Jacob Brunow (Sammy) of Richmond, VA, Sara Brunow (Adam Spencer) of Houston, TX, and Elizabeth Borgen (Casey) of and Philip Melson of Seattle; and three step-grandchildren, Chris Harris (Anna) of Poulsbo, Marcy Harris (Kevin) of Vancouver, WA, and Lisa Perez (Anthony) of Temecula, CA; 10 great-grandchildren and 11 step great-grandchildren; and finally, one step great-great grandchild! All will lovingly remember her as ‘Grandma Sara’.

Celebrations of Sara’s life will be held in small gatherings in both Washington and Iowa, with interment of ashes in Jefferson as the family gathers there this summer. Arrangements are handled in Washington by Lewis Chapel (www.lewischapel.com) followed by Slininger-Schroeder Funeral Home in Jefferson.

 

Condolences to the family or memorial gifts in Sara’s name are welcome and can be sent c/o Lewis Chapel, 5303 Kitsap Way, Bremerton, WA 98312. Suggested memorials: Summit Avenue Presbyterian Church in Bremerton, Mennonite Relief Fund (www.mcc.org), or the Greene County Historical Society in Jefferson.

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