Friday, July 18, 2014

Obituary: Melvin Motis

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 this year.

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 services.

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 sport.

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 better.”

Mel was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Helen; wife, Carol; sister, Marlene VanPatten; and brother-in-law William “Blackie” VanPatten.

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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