Melvin Dean Motis was born to Frank Motis and Helen Kovanda Motis on June 17, 1939, at Exeter, and passed away on Tuesday, July 15, at Warren Memorial Hospital in Friend, at the age of 75 years.
Mel grew up in Exeter and graduated from Exeter Public High School in
1957. He married Carol Jean Hughes on April 23, 1966, and to them three
sons were born; Mike, Doug and Jim.
Following graduation, Mel served in the US Army and competed on the
Army Rifle team, before going to work for Burlington Northern Railroad.
After a few years he came back to the family farm and continued to farm
with his father, raising crops, hogs and cattle until 1984 when the
farm economy began to struggle.
During this time Mel served for 8 years
on the Exeter School board. With three growing boys to feed, Mel was
forced to work off the farm at various jobs, including Volkmer
Construction, Horizontal Boring and Jacques Seed. In 1988 Mel took a
job with Boeing Aviation in Wichita, KS, and worked there until the
death of his wife, Carol, in 1993. Mel moved back to the family farm
and started M and M Tree Service, which he continued to operate until
his health began to fail in 2004. Despite his failing physical
strength, Melvin continued to help many neighbors and friends with field
work in the spring, and with harvest in the fall. He came to love
swathing hay for Jason Oldehoeft, and would never turn down an
opportunity to mow hay, a beloved activity he continued until May of
Throughout much of his life, Mel was known for his trap shooting
skills, and spent many weekends and weeknights shooting with some of his
closest friends. Family vacations often included the State Trap Shoot
in Doniphan. Over the years, the mass of trophies, guns and other
winnings were enough to fill a whole room. He spent many nights
reloading shells after working all day, and would always make it to a
shoot the next day, wherever it may be.
Mel was an avid hunter and wildlife lover. Many a time he could be
found near his canary grass plot watching the pheasants fly in. Growing
up he never missed a hunting season, and he passed that passion on to
his three boys. Many winter days he could be found cruising the
countryside with all three boys in the truck, looking for pheasant,
rabbit or quail. For a little sporting fun, he would even take the boys
on an occasional coyote hunt on Sundays, despite missing church
Mel was also a devoted sports fan, many Saturdays were spent watching
college football with his grandsons, but he was especially proud to
watch his grand kids in all their sporting events never missing a chance
to attend a football, softball, basketball game or wrestling match.
You could always find Mel at an auction, coin sale, having coffee, or
just putting around in the “silver bullet” he refused to quit driving.
He spent a lot of time at his grandkids’ trap shoots, all of which
followed in their granddad’s footsteps, taking up an interest in the
He loved the Fillmore County Fair hog show, and you could find him
sitting somewhere in the stands. He enjoyed watching his grandkids show
their pigs, and he would never miss one of their shows, regardless of
what else needed to be done. He had the best seat in the house this
year having passed on the day of the Fillmore County Fair hog show. He
was watching from above as they drove several pigs to champion honors.
In his retirement, Mel found a love of cooking and canning,
specializing in pickles, pork and beans, and jaternice, which he was
proud to share with family and friends. He spent many hours playing
pitch, poker, or any game of chance, and enjoyed riding along on any
road trip with the boys, whatever the activity or destination.
Over the years Mel met many people that he was blessed to know, a
source of great pride for him. Wherever he went someone knew him.
Mel will be remembered for being just a little bit stubborn and stuck
in his ways, maybe a little too quick to complain. But he always said,
“If you don’t tell someone what they are doing wrong, they won’t get
Mel was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Helen; wife,
Carol; sister, Marlene VanPatten; and brother-in-law William “Blackie”
He is survived by sons, Mike and Brenda, Geneva; Doug and Lori,
Exeter; and Jim and Natalie, Geneva; grandsons, Thane, Preston, Colton,
Wyatt, Trevian, and Gatlin; granddaughters, Caroline and Toni; brother,
Ernest; sister-in-law, Betty Motis; aunt, Clarabelle Smith; and many
nieces and nephews.
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