Mel Tuttle was born to Orrin and Mary (Sullivan) Tuttle in Nyssa, Ore., on Jan. 4, 1948.
His mother died in a car wreck when he was 4, and he lived for a short time with his Pentecostal grandmother who taught him about Jesus Christ and never gave up praying for him and claiming him for Jesus.
He lived a checkered youth and was living on the streets at the age of 14. He was in and out of foster homes, tried the hippie thing for a few years, went so far as going to San Francisco in a micro mini bus. Then he figured higher education was the key and he would find what he was looking for there. Though he never finished high school, he went to college; two in Portland area, on to St. Louis, then to Boise State. Though he went far and wide searching in higher education and looking for something to satisfy his inner soul, he never found it there. It wasn’t until Mel went to prison that he finally found what he was looking for. He came to know his Lord and his Savior and from that point on he couldn’t keep quiet about what God had done for him. Mel never allowed being in prison to define his life.
Mel moved to the Stites area in 1994 and not long after went to work for the Senior Nutrition Program in Kooskia. Later when they merged, he continued baking in Kamiah. Though he retired from baking at the Kamiah Mealsite in February this year, he was still manager of the kitchen. He was well known for his famous cinnamon rolls; he even had orders for them from California.
On Nov. 4, 1994, Mel married Robin (Hall) and two days later he was ordained in Valley Christian Assembly in Emmett. Robin played the piano and sang, and the two started their ministry together, first back into the prisons “from whence he came,” going to Boise, Orofino and Cotton-wood. He also began doing Search for Truth Bible Studies in homes, training Christians with an overview of the Bible. He was passionate about people getting a clear understanding of the Word of God. He implemented a 12-step program, ministering to the addicted and dysfunctional. Soon they were traveling around Idaho and preaching in different churches, even as far as New Jersey.
In 2005, when several people came together and asked if he would do a Bible study, he entered into another chapter of his life where he began his pastor/shepherding ministry. They began to meet together in their home, and from that, Hope Fellowship was birthed. Mel always told his church he was just one of the sheep, just like you, only God had put a bell around his neck and said, “lead.”
Mel’s favorite saying was “I’m not going to back up, give up, or shut up, until God takes me up.” On Thursday, May 27, 2021, Mel’s voice was silenced when he was taken up to be in the presence of Jesus.
He is survived by his wife, Robin; stepchildren Tracy and Tom Horak, Dallas and Jane Baldwin; grandchildren Dylan, Bailey and Josie; brother Orrin (Charlotte); stepsister Mona; nieces and nephews; and a large church family that Mel loved as much as his own. Mel had children and other family members elsewhere that he regretted never being able to reconnect with.
Because of his background, he had a heart and compassion for the prodigals. He was that father who never gave up, always looking down the road for them. He never pulled a punch, even sounding harsh at times, and yet they always knew he loved them. He never held on to bitterness in his heart but was always looking to win them over to Christ. Mel was quick-witted with an answer for everybody. He had a vibrant passion for God, he was Bible-thumping, ever-preaching, loving no matter where you were physically, mentally or spiritually, grace-giving, fun-loving, gun-packing, charismatic, servant to all. If he wasn’t dressed up in his suit for Sunday, you would find him in one of his Hawaiian shirts.
He will leave a hole in our hearts and in the community and will be greatly missed. We love him very much.
His graveside service (planting, Romans 6:4, 1 Corinthians 15:52), will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Harpster Cemetery. A celebration of life will follow at noon at the Gospel Lighthouse Church, 406 Main St., Stites. There will be a potluck afterward at the Kooskia Elementary School.