Melvin Harrington — Stewartville
Melvin John Harrington passed away Tuesday, July 29, 2014 in Stewartville, after a life fully lived with family and friends, in church and in town, on the golf course and on the plains of South Dakota.
Mel was born Oct. 10, 1928, in Cresbard, S.D., to Lawrence Lamar and Pansy Ethel (Connell) Harrington. He grew up on the family farm with his siblings, Gerald (Jerry), Maxine, Doris and their cousin, Bernie Tomek. After graduating from Cresbard High School, Mel joined the South Dakota National Guard and enlisted into the U.S. Army - Air Force in 1947. His basic training was in Lackland, Texas, where he was hand-picked to play baseball for the United States. After radar training at Keeslar Airbase in Mississippi, he served overseas in Wiesbaden, Germany, and was proud to be a part of the Berlin Airlift Squadron. After honorable discharge in 1950, he moved to Aberdeen, S.D., and began his first career with Northwestern Bell in the advertising department. It was during his training in Omaha Neb., that he met the love of his life, Jean Winona Thoelcke. They were married in 1953 in Omaha, Neb., and Mel was transferred to Rapid City as a sales engineer. All of their children were born in Rapid City: stillborn twins, Stewart and Porter, followed by Leslie, Christy and Blair.
After a transfer to Mitchell, S.D., the Harringtons moved to Stewartville in 1963. Mel owned and operated Harrington Real Estate and Appraisal in Stewartville for nearly 40 years, selling homes all over the southeastern part of the state. Leslie has fond memories of taking drives and looking at homes with her dad. The Minnesota Association of Realtors named him Realtor of the Year. While working in Stewartville, Mel founded the Southeast Minnesota Industrial Development Association. He served on Minnesota Gov. LeVander's steering committee for regional development. Mel was an active member of Zion Lutheran Church where he served on the council and was a Sunday school superintendent and teacher. It was at Zion that Mel and Jean met so many of their lifelong friends. Mel was a charter member of the Stewartville Lion's Club and was awarded the Melvin Jones and Helen Keller Sight awards. He will be well remembered for his "permanent" position as Tail Twister. Mel was known for his jokes and shenanigans. Mel was very civic minded and volunteered to serve with numerous Stewartville boards and committees. A bell-ringer for Salvation Army, Mel knew how to fill the kettles. He loved to bowl, sponsored a team and once bowled a 4-7-9-10 split. A chronic, consummate golfer, Melvin made a hole-in-one three times over. His golfing buddies will miss him dearly. For decades, Mel went pheasant hunting in South Dakota, a legacy he shared with his son, Blair. Many people were the lucky recipients of poems written especially for them. A poem, "The One Room Schoolhouse," was read over the air on WCCO radio. Another interest of Dad's was going to the stock-car races in Racine. Mel's daughter, Christy, will always treasure Sunday mornings with her dad, listening to the radio, and playing with Henry, the spectacular grand-puppy.
Mel's family would like to thank the all of the angels who cared for Mel in the past year and a half, especially his buddies at the Stewartville Care Center. We are also grateful to Anne, who tended to Dad in his last months of life.
Those left to cherish his memory include Leslie and Blair (Sue), both of Rochester, and Christy (aka Alexandra "Alley" Paisley) of Stewartville, and his sisters, Maxine Bradbury and Doris Altringer.
Funeral services for Mel will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, at Zion Lutheran Church in Stewartville with the Rev. Byron Meline officiating. Burial with military graveside honors by the American Legion Post 164 will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery in Stewartville.
Friends may call from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, at Griffin-Gray Funeral Home in Stewartville and one hour prior to the service at church on Saturday. Memorials are suggested to Zion Lutheran Church or to the local Lion's Club at P.O. Box 212, Stewartville, MN 55976.
Jean passed away in November 2012. They are at last reunited and dancing together upon some celestial floor.