By HDN Staff
CHINOOK Melvin Oris Chapman, 89, died Thursday, May 16, 2002, in a Wolf Point hospital.
Graveside services will be Saturday at 10 a.m. in Kuper Memorial Cemetery.
Melvin was born in Oblong, Ill., to Mabel Ikemire and Oris Chapman on Dec. 29,
1912. His family moved to Montana in 1913 to homestead with several other Oblong families. This area in northern Blaine County soon became known as the Oblong community. He spent a lot of time with his brother, Harold, raising and breaking horses. Many of the stories he told his children were memories of his childhood adventures on the backs of those horses.
Melvin attended school through his freshman year of high school. He then worked for Miller Brother's Ranch where he stayed until he was in his early twenties. He enjoyed the hard work on the ranch and always spoke highly of it.
Melvin married his life long partner, Lona Brinkman
In early 1937, Melvin worked for Young's Chevrolet of Chinook and began his career as a mechanic. The friendships he made while working there lasted for the rest of his life. Melvin moved his family to Whitefish in 1941 where he continued to work for Young's Chevrolet, repairing the logging trucks that were so vital to the war effort.
Melvin's family returned to Chinook and in 1946 purchased the Curtis Christianson garage, which would be known for several years as Chat's Super Service. While he was still running the garage, he started farming. Melvin and Lona enjoyed operating her father's farm south of Chinook for several years. Many a picture was taken of him standing in a field with the wheat as high as his chest and a big smile on his face. He loved the land and the rewards that came with it. He was an extremely talented mechanic, welder and fabricator. He retired from the Farmers Union and farming in the early 1980s.
Melvin was a lifelong member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a serious bowler, an avid hunter, a member of the Chinook Rod & Gun Club in his younger years, and spent considerable time stocking fishponds and creating wildlife habitat throughout the area. He loved to fly fish. His grace and finesse with his old bamboo fly rod was a joy to watch. He cherished the time he spent outdoors and throughout his life not only shared his time hunting and fishing with his children but also with his nieces, nephews and grandchildren. He enjoyed hunting in the places he remembered from his youth, the Miller Ranch and the North Chinook country. His brother Art and close friend, Les Mellet, were two of his favorite hunting buddies. Often their hunting trips were spent talking about the old homesteads and the families they once knew as they traveled around. Their wives sent the hunters off with great German chocolate cakes and fresh baked apple pies. Getting invited on one of their outings was truly an event.
Melvin and Lona spent several years involved with the Chinook Saddle Club and traveled to other towns to show off their horses in local parades and horse shows. His favorite horse was Colonel, a Tennessee Walker. Later in life when his memory was fading, his most prized possession was a painting by his daughter, Marilee, of these special animals.
Melvin had many close friends and family throughout his life. His most precious memories seemed always to be centered on them. Their friendship and care was most evident in the last few years of his life as he lost himself to the affects of Alzheimer's disease. The comfort and care provided by Bill Finch, Bill Harbolt, Dale Wass and family, and many others meant so much during the difficult times.
He was an unselfish man who was always willing to share his time, knowledge or talent. He was born in an era where nothing came easy. He worked hard for what he got and complained little of what he could not have. He was a good father and was always there for his children. He often admitted that the light of his life was his wife, Lona, and their 66 years of marriage was a blessing he would not trade for any other. He was a man who did not express his love by words, but his heart was big and there was not any doubt by his family that he loved them greatly and they did.
Melvin was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Art and Harold; daughter, Marilee; and brothers-in-law and good friends, Edgar Obie and Les Miller.
Survivors include his wife, Lona; daughters, Margaret Chapman of Mountain View, Calif.; Marlene Young of Sunny Vale, Calif.; Debra Olsen of Helena; son, Derryl (Judy) Chapman of Billings; son-in-law, Ron Johnson of Wolf Point; siblings, Frieda Miller, Marietta (Norman) Mosser, Frances (Royal) Richardson and Dorothy Obie; eight grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be sent to the Harada House of Wolf Point, Chinook Senior Citizens Center, or the Alzheimer's Research Center, 640 Jackson St., St. Paul, MN 55101-2595.
Arrangements are by Edwards Funeral Home of Chinook.