Melvin Eliason Call, Commander, US Navy (Retired) of Idaho Falls returned home on May 31, 2019, at Fairwinds-Sand Creek in Idaho Falls of causes incident to age. He was 95 years old.
Mel was born on January 18, 1924, in Bancroft, Idaho to Joseph Clarence and Myrtle Eliason Call. He had four brothers (Joseph, Lowell, Clarence, and John) and three sisters (Betty Jane, Myrtle, and Erla Mae). He attended North Gem High School where he was active in sports and band. He learned to work hard, with jobs at his father's plumbing and electrical business, the high school, the local movie theater and the family farm.
In 1942, fresh out of high school, he enlisted in the US Navy. He had always been fascinated by airplanes and soon after enlisting as an apprentice seaman he applied for officer candidate school and flight school to become a naval aviator. He successfully completed his training and was awarded the coveted "Wings of Gold" in 1944.
While in flight training in Kansas, he met Doris May Rudd, of Hutchinson, Kansas, whom he successfully courted and married in the Logan Utah Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in August 1944. They lived throughout the United States during his naval career, including time in California, Washington, Hawaii, Florida, Virginia, and Texas. His duties required substantial time away from family when assigned to the aircraft carriers USS Boxer from 1952 to 1954 and USS Ranger from 1960 to 1962. During his career as a Navy aviator, he served in combat missions in both World War II and the Korean Conflict, earning many commendations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal (three times). He also served as the commanding officer of a nationally recognized fighter pilot training squadron in Texas. He was consistently admired throughout his military career by those with whom he served.
He and Doris raised five sons during these years. M. James (Jim) was born in Kansas while Mel was serving in the Pacific during World War II. Richard L. (Rich) was born in Washington, while Mel was attending college after the war. Joseph R. (Joe) and Gary D. (Gary) were both born in Florida while Mel was a flight instructor at the Pensacola Naval Air Station and Randall R. (Rand) was born in Virginia while Mel was stationed at Oceana Naval Air Station.
In February 1966, Mel retired from the Navy and he and Doris brought their family to Idaho Falls. He worked for several years as the Sales Vice-President of Dairyland Dairy before joining the D.V. Groberg Company in 1973, as a real estate salesman, a third career that he thoroughly enjoyed, eventually starting his own real estate company, Call Enterprises, Inc. He served on the board and as president of the Idaho Falls Board of Realtors and was involved with professional activities at both the state and national level. During his real estate career and thereafter, he was known for his "CALL ME" license plates.
Both before and after his retirement from real estate in 1986, Mel and Doris enjoyed traveling, visiting family and friends throughout the United States. They especially enjoyed visits with their family to Bear Lake, Utah and Yellowstone National Park. While living on Hartert Drive in Idaho Falls, Mel and Doris helped start the tradition of "Candy Cane Lane" during the Christmas season.
Doris passed away in 1999, and the next year he married Zeralene Soelberg, who passed away in February 2018.
Mel thoroughly enjoyed serving in various church capacities throughout his life. His callings included high priest group leader, gospel doctrine teacher, branch president, bishop, counselor in a bishopric, counselor in a stake presidency, high councilor in several stakes and temple service worker. He served two missions, one with Doris in Alabama and another with Zeralene in England. As part of his church assignments, he helped build meetinghouses in Florida, Virginia, California, and Idaho.
Mel was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather and he loved his family in return. When younger, he enjoyed the time he was able to spend with his family; as he aged, he enjoyed sending cards to them on birthdays and cherished the many cards and letters he received regularly from them. These were often displayed prominently in his home. Like many of his "greatest generation", he had experiences that those of us that have followed will never understand and these shaped his life in many ways. He strived to do his best at everything he did and set a wonderful example of service to his family and those around him.
Mel is survived by his five sons and their wives: Jim (Susan) of San Diego, California, Rich (LeeAnn) of Westminster, Colorado, Joe (Nola) of Idaho Falls, Idaho, Gary (Cathy Jo) of Blackfoot, Idaho, and Rand (Pamela) of Salt Lake City, Utah; 19 grandchildren and 49 great-grandchildren; siblings Myrtle Cook of Orem, Utah, and Clarence (Rita) Call of Rio Linda, California; and Zeralene's children, Ryan, Marlow (Sharon), and Bret (Becky) Blanchard, Tawna (Glen) Robinson and Melanie Taylor and their families. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wives, siblings Joseph, Lowell, and John Call, Betty Jane Marley and Erla Mae Knudsen, and a great-grandson, Samuel Call.
The family appreciates the staff of Fairwinds-Sand Creek and OneSource Home Health & Hospice for their loving and attentive care, and the members of the Crestwood and Stonehaven Wards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who allowed him to serve and who served him so faithfully while he lived at Fairwinds.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, June 8, 2019, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meetinghouse at 1925 East 49th South, Idaho Falls, Idaho. Family and friends are invited to visit there from 9:30 to 10:45 AM. Following the service, interment will be at the Parker, Idaho Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.woodfuneralhome.com. Gifts in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Doris Rudd and Melvin Eliason Call Endowed Grant-in-Aid Fund at BYU-Idaho.
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