Roland J. “Mel” Melinsky, 98, of Amarillo, TX went to his heavenly home on December 13, 2020, in Amarillo. He lived in his own house, in full command of his faculties and on his own terms, until taken from us by a brief struggle with Covid-19.
He was the rock of his family and a pillar of his community, and he was fiercely proud of the accomplishments of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, step-children, step-grandchildren, and step-great-grandchildren. With a character forged during the Great Depression, he worked diligently, honestly, and humbly, knowing that anyone might see their fortune turn at a moment’s notice. He was unfailingly kind to everyone in an unassuming way that made it seem like the most natural thing in the world. He was everyone’s listening ear and crying shoulder; he gave all the benefit of the doubt, while somehow always still knowing the real score. He helped cushion the calamities of everyone around him without expecting anything in return. He never lectured or judged, and helped others around him be their best selves simply by being who he was, by showing you such unassuming goodness was actually possible.
The family will hold a private family graveside service soon, and a larger memorial service that can include all those who loved him at Westminster Presbyterian Church after the pandemic has subsided. Public viewing will be available from 9:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M., Friday, December 18, 2020, at Boxwell Brothers Funeral Home, 2800 Paramount Blvd. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, Amarillo.
Mel was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on August 4, 1922, to Joseph & Nellie Melinsky. The family later moved to Johnson City, New York, where he attended Johnson City High School. An athletic young man, Mel competed with distinction in the school’s football, baseball, and boxing programs. He was a proud WWII veteran. He enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1942 and served as an X-ray medical technician. He was discharged in February 1946 with the rank of Sergeant.
He married Mildred Nelson on January 5, 1946, in the First Presbyterian Church in Emporia, Kansas. He then entered Syracuse University in May 1946 on the G.I. Bill and graduated in August 1949 with a degree in business management.
After moving to Amarillo in 1949, Mel had a long and successful career in business. He actually turned down the first job he was offered here because they told him to change his name to something that sounded more “American”; he politely declined to do so, and one hopes they later realized the talent they had lost. In 1951, he started work for Texas Mercantile, later named Plains Sales, where he became General Manager, both of which distributed health and beauty products, housewares, and soft goods. He was hired by Ponca Wholesale, a tobacco and candy wholesaler, in 1958. At Ponca, he eventually rose to become President of the Company, overseeing a business network of 35 branches serving 4 states. Under his tenure, sales rose from $50 million in 1971 to $170 million in 1983, in part due to his pioneering new methods in sales, marketing, and distribution. He retired in 1987 after the company’s sale.
He was awarded many positions, titles, and honors during his storied career, including: President of the American Wholesale Marketers Association, President of the Amarillo Executive Association, Industry Executive Management Award for 1973, Man of the Year in 1979 from the Anti-Defamation League, President of the Texas Association of Tobacco and Candy Distributors, Director Emeritus of the Texas Wholesale Distributors Association, Director of the Amarillo Wholesaler’s Association, Elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and Director of the Amarillo Downtown Kiwanis Club.
He was married to Mildred for 48 years until she passed away on August 4, 1994. He is survived by their three children, Adair Buckner (Dale) of Amarillo, Denise Melinsky (Roderick Ram) of the Fiji Islands, and Kent Melinsky (Ruie ) of Amarillo; by three grandchildren, Cameron Buckner (Lindita Camaj) of Houston, Danielle Buckner Skala (Charlie) of Jonestown, and Meagan Melinsky of Austin; and by three great-grandchildren, Arzana Buckner, Adria Buckner, and Roland Skala.
He married Laura Elizabeth Thomas at Westminster Presbyterian Church on May 18, 1996. She passed September 27,2017. Mel welcomed into his heart her family as well, including: step-children, Mike Thomas (Carol) of Amarillo, David Thomas (Jennifer) of Albuquerque, and Heather Thomas (Don Skwierczynski) of Plano, and another step-son, Rick Thomas (Anne), of Amarillo, who also recently passed away; by step-grandchildren, Richard Thomas (Jennifer) of Dallas, Mandy Thomas Sessler (Sam) of Flower Mound, Jesse Thomas Cramer (Bobby) of Carrollton, Kurt Thomas of Plano, Caitlin Thomas Deyerle (James) of North Chesterfield, VA, and Julie Thomas Knowles (Steve) of Chicago; and by seven step-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by wives, Mildred Melinsky and Liz Thomas Melinsky, his younger brother, William A. Melinsky of Vestal, NY (and is survived by 2 nieces and 2 nephews on William’s side), stepson, Rick Thomas, and step-great-granddaughter, Lillian Thomas.
Memorials can be made to Amarillo Faith City Mission, Westminster Presbyterian Church of Amarillo, and the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra.