Wesley Charles Melton 1922-2011
Wesley Melton died on April 24th. He was a true twentieth century pioneer, whose contributions to Los Angeles and California were part of the fabric that has sustained this great state over the past seventy-five years. Born in Oklahoma, one of twelve children to the son of a Methodist minister and his Cherokee wife, Wes¹ early life was shaped by religion in the pre depression days of our country. As the heartland fell victim to the ravages of over taxing the land, Wes, his father and several brothers ventured west to seek the opportunities of promise in the California landscape.
In the early days of automotive travel, the going was slow and treacherous on the newly dedicated Route 66. His first job was not in California, but in Arizona, when the Model-T Ford that the family had employed lost its steam in the Arizona desert. However, it was at this time that Wes and his brothers learned to work the land and developed talents that would serve them well when they finally arrived near Bakersfield several months later.
Their early jobs entailed the manufacture of boxes for produce and grapes in the burgeoning days of the wine industry. Wes¹ affable personality that served him so well through the rest of his life was developed in the small towns that dotted the expanse of farm land so important to the economy during this pre- war era. Wes Melton served in the naval forces during the Second World War. His career was cut short during a weapon backfire, but he found himself at the naval yards of Treasure Island in San Francisco when news arrived that the war had ended.
His first job after the war was as a driver for a local paper company. He was able to witness first hand as Los Angeles grew from the end of its agrarian beginnings with citrus groves still prevalent to the large metropolis that it was to become over the next decades. He spoke colorfully and passionately about the changes he observed during this era of post war change. His tenure in the electronics industry at Honeywell and Vivatar in the sixties and seventies left Wes with skill sets that served his family well over his retirement years. Wes had an affinity for real estate investments that kept him occupied over the last years of his life, as did his love of the music of Elvis Presley. President of the local Optimist club he developed lifelong friendships through his caring and warm demeanor. His love and devotion to his family was perhaps his most special quality. Perhaps he will be most remembered by his unselfish and loving ways, always willing to go above and beyond. He is survived by his wife, Bette of sixty years, his daughter Cheryl Foliart, a longtime vice-president at Disney, his son Mark, an import and export executive at Toshiba, his son Ronnie from a previous marriage, his step daughters Carolyn Egenes and Connie Sullivan, son-in-laws Roger Egenes and Dan Foliart, and numerous nieces, nephews, grand children and great-grandchildren. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.