Posted here by Gary Gauer Dec 6 2021

quilt photo added Dec 7 2021

Intro by Gary Gauer

This is a story of, Don Melin, a farmer who grew up and lived in northern Renville County about 5 miles south of Lake Lillian. He was 2 years younger than my mother, Jeanette Erickson Gauer and The Erickson's lived on a farm about a mile west of the Anderson / Melin farm place through 1936. Jeanette died in 1982 but Don continued to be our family friend and attended several of the Gauer Family Reunions over the ensuing years. Grace and I visited Don and Margaret several times at their farm home and several times at the nursing homes in their later years. They were gentle and friendly people of the greatest generation. Now as usual we are sad to learn some things from the obits that we didn't know or discuss previously when we could have.

The Eulogy at Don's Celebration of Life on May 21,2021 was presented by Wayne Coil.            

The Eulogy at United Lutheran Church

My name is Wayne Coil.

Gary and Suzie asked me to talk a little about the quilt of Valor on display over there; but First I'd like to talk briefly about our family.

My parents were Marvin & Violet Coil, who were lifetime members of this church. I have one sister, Mavis. Mavis and I both were baptized, confirmed and raised in this beautiful and comforting church. It is great to be back in this place but not in these circumstances.

Mavis regrets not being able to be here today. She lives in Fairhope, Alabama which is on the east shore of Mobile Bay. It is an absolutely beautiful little town with wide boulevards and gorgeous flowers everywhere. She has two adult children.

My wife, Sue and I live just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. We have three adult children.

Donald Melin is my uncle. My mother, Violet, and he were brother & sister. He had one other sister, Florence, who married Vernon Peterson and had four sons, Dale, Lyle, Darryl and Jerry, who are all here today. The all live in Minnesota.

Donald, "Bud", as we called him was a fun-loving guy. Prior to his marrying Margaret, he lived with his mother, Esther, on their farm which was homesteaded by my Great Grandfather Axel Anderson. If you visit the gravesite today, you will notice his grave immediately adjacent to others of our family.

When I was very young, maybe 8-10 years old, I was lucky enough to spend several days each summer staying at their house. In those days, Bud had several milk cows, which they milked by hand, chickens, a few pigs, some were Bud's pets and he couldn't bear to sell them so that they grew to be over 1000 pounds, when most pigs are sold at 200 pounds. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the several cats who waited for their treat when milking was over. And there was the almost human big German Shephard dog that Bud loved and who understood and acted upon everything Bud told him to do.

As I grew older, these summer vacations became more and more fun. My father, Marvin, drove Allis Chalmers tractors and the clutch was impossible for a young boy to push but Bud's tractors were John Deere's with an easy hand clutch. Boy, I was a big man,at 10 years old, when I was allowed to drive Bud's John Deere hauling grain bundles during threshing. What fun!

Of course, there are hundreds of other memories, like any other family, ranging from giddy happiness to overwhelming sadness.

One was in 1944, the extremely sad and long passenger train ride on, believe it or not, the Luce Line that departed from the Lake Lillian depot to Minneapolis when Bud was being deployed overseas to battle the German Army. Of course, the trip included Grandma Esther and the rest of the family. I was but four years old but I remember it well.

Everyone suffered during that long and awful war. In letters home, which we still have, Bud talked about wanting to be there with us for our birthdays and other events. However, Bud's Mom and sisters suffered, as well. Especially, during the several weeks that they never heard from him after his being wounded. Of course, they were expecting the worst. Can you imagine their joy in learning that he was ONLY wounded after not knowing what happened to him for so long?

Then to the fun times. Like hearing the joy and laughter when he returned and disappeared from my parents living room. Oh, he had just jumped out the window.

Now, I'm going to digress just a little.

When my son graduated from high school, about 35 years ago. I took he and my sister Mavis' son, David, to Europe for three weeks. It was my plan to give these boys a little history lesson. Before we left, we studied some World War II history knowing that we would visit many of these areas. Even though Bud never liked to speak about his time in Europe during the war, he was kind enough to sit down with us to relay some of his experiences which we now treasure because of something called a Quilt of Valor.


In some parts of the country, Veterans are given what is called Quilts of Valor. About a year ago right now, my wife Sue, who loves to sew, decided that she would like to make a Quilt of Valor for Bud.

The quilt is here today and is on display. It is beautiful and was presented to Bud just prior to his last birthday.

What is a QUILT OF VALOR? It is a quality, handmade quilt that is awarded to a Veteran who has been touched by war. The Quilt says, "THANK YOU for your service and sacrifice in serving our nation"

This quilt was made especially for DONALD MELIN in appreciation for his years of sacrifice and service to our country. The quilt was handmade by Susan Coil, niece of Donald.

Typically, when these quilts are presented, a little history of the recipient's military duty is written and included. Fortunately, I had that history from 35 years earlier and wrote the accompanying history. I'll share it with you right now.

WWII United States Army

Donald Melin was drafted into the United States Army when he was in his early twenties. He was sent to Camp Phillips in Salina, Kansas for training. While stationed in Salina, Kansas, he met the Hansen family who treated him as one of their own and they maintained that cordial relationship for many, many years. In 1944, upon completion of that training he boarded a troop ship crossing the very dangerous Atlantic, which was teeming with German submarines, for more training in Great Britain.

Three months after the Normandy Beach Invasion, he landed on the same beach which was strewn with the wreckage of war including destroyed ships, beach landing craft, tanks, German fortifications, etc. Upon landing, his infantry group, part of General Patton's Third Army, marched hundreds of miles. First, they were marched to Western France and then reordered to march across France to the East. This eastward march was probably in preparation for the infamous Battle of the Bulge which was fought later that year. On their march across France they slept in "fox holes" and hay stacks scattered in the area, encountered all forms of bad weather, ate "C" rations and other meals out of cans, rarely had fresh clothes to wear and their shoes and socks were perpetually wet. Often, they faced off against retreating German soldiers which took its toll.

Ultimately, fate reached Donald when he received serious shrapnel wounds to his legs. He was evacuated to a hospital in England where he spent six weeks recuperating before being sent back to the United States. Unfortunately, while in the English hospital, his father passed away back home leaving a mother and two sisters alone.

Upon his return to the United States, he was awarded with the Purple Heart Medal and was honorably discharged from the U. S. Army.

Donald recovered but spent a lifetime with wartime memories and lingering pain from his service. However, he told no one unless asked. Only reluctantly did he talk about himself or his service and never dwelt upon his condition.


Obituary of Donald Melin

November 29,1921 -- May 14,2021

Donald Melin, age 99, of Olivia, MN died on Friday, May 14,2021 at RenVilla Nursing Home in Renville. Funeral services will be on Friday, May 21,2021 at 2 p.m. at United Lutheran Church in Lake Lillian with Pastor Matt Hausken as officiant. Burial will be at the Christina Cemetery. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers memorials are preferred. Arrangements are with Dirks-Blem Funeral Service of Olivia.

A livestream of the service will be available to view on Friday, May 21 st at 2 p.m. link available on our website.

Donald Luvern Melin was born on November 29,1921 on the family farm north of Bird Island to Richard and Esther (Anderson) Melin. He attended country school just down the road from the family farm. Donald worked on the family farm until being drafted into WWII and returned after serving in Europe. He served his country in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945 and received a purple heart medal.

Donald married Margaret on June 17, 1949 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Bird Island. They lived and farmed north of Bird Island and were blessed with two children. He enjoyed going on bus trips and traveling to the North Shore, gardening, visiting, playing checkers and monopoly. He had a love for growing pumpkins and different kinds of squash for his grandkids. In the fall he would make a trip or two with a pickup and trailer to the Roske boy's house in Minnetonka. He did the same for granddaughter, Madison Melin who sold the pumpkins near the family farm. When friends and neighbors dropped by for a visit, Donald always had time to invite them in for a cup of coffee. More than likely Margaret had one of her special treats to share to make the visit even better.

He was a member of United Lutheran Church and a former member of the Lake Lillian Elevator. Farming was Donald's passion as he was proud to be a lifelong farmer even helping his son farm until he was 93.

Donald is survived by his daughter Sue (and Tom) Roske of Minnetonka; his son Gary (and Pauline) Melin of Olivia; his four grandchildren: Jacob Roske (and Bianca Pettis), Jordan Roske (and Erin Rooney), Patrick Roske, and Madison Melin; his great-grandchildren: Edee Wren Roske Rooney and Wilder Fox Roske Rooney. Donald was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret; his parents and his two sisters: Florence Peterson and Violet Coil. Blessed Be His Memory Dirks-Blem Funeral Service, Olivia, MN (320) 523-1102

Obituary of Margaret Melin

September 14, 1924 -- May 6, 2019

Margaret Melin, age 94, of Olivia died Monday, May 6, 2019 at Olivia Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center.  Mass of Christian Burial is Wednesday, May 15th at 1:15 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bird Island with Rev. George Schmit as celebrant.  Burial is in Christina Cemetery near Lake Lillian, MN.  Visitation is Wednesday at the church from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.   Arrangements are with Dirks-Blem Funeral Service, Olivia, MN.

Margaret Catherine Melin was born September 14, 1924 at Olivia, MN, to John and Josephine (Julius) Ocenasek. She grew up on the family farm and attended Olivia schools. Margaret married Donald Melin on June 17, 1949 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bird Island. They lived and farmed north of Bird Island and were blessed with two children. Margaret had been employed by Bell Telephone Co. in earlier years and later did sewing at Fingerhut Corporation in Bird Island. Margaret absolutely loved being a farmwife and working hard alongside her husband. She was a tremendous cook and enjoyed making large meals, excellent desserts, as well as delicious Special K bars. She truly enjoyed having guests stop by and always made sure there was a nice treat to go with their coffee. Margaret was a faithful member of St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Lake Lillian for many years where she taught religious education and was a member of the CCW. After some health issues she resided at the RenVilla Nursing Home for a year and now at the Olivia Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center these past two years.

Margaret is survived by her husband Donald Melin of Olivia; her daughter Sue (and Tom) Roske of Minnetonka; her son Gary (and Pauline) Melin of Olivia; her four grandchildren: Jacob Roske (and Bianca Pettis), Jordan Roske (and Erin Rooney), Patrick Roske, and Madison Melin; her great-grandchildren: Edee Wren Roske Rooney and Wilder Fox Roske Rooney; and her brother Jack (and Vivian) Ocenasek of Minnetonka. Margaret was preceded in death by her parents; and her two brothers Larry Ocenasek and Jim Ocenasek.

Blessed Be Her Memory