Our dad, Melvin “Mel” Van Dyk, passed away peacefully in his home on Seventh Street in Clarkston on Thursday, June 6, 2019.
Dad was born July 19, 1925, in Sandpoint, Idaho, to Gerrit Melvin Van Dyk and Hazel (Dingley) Van Dyk. Dad’s early years were spent mostly in the woods around his childhood home and anywhere his dad was. He loved to fish, hunt, pick huckleberries, pick mushrooms and cut wood. Life was good when he was in the woods.
Upon graduating from Sandpoint High School in 1943, dad enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces on Nov. 23, 1943. He attained the rank of sergeant while serving until his honorable discharge Dec. 21, 1945. Dad fought with the 15th Air Force, 483rd Bombardment Group (H) and 816 squadron, which was a B-17 bomber group station in southern Italy. He was a B-17 tail gunner, who flew 22 missions during his time in the European theater. His medals included European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the Purple Heart.
Even though Dad was a hero in our minds, he never talked about his war experience until about the last 10 years of his life. He would probably say that I had already said too much. He was one of the last of the “Greatest Generation.”
Upon returning from the war, he made his way to Seattle where he met Mom (Mary Jane Jackson) while working at Boeing. Dad and Mom were married July 2, 1949, in Newport, Wash.
Oldest son Melvin (Butch) was born in Seattle before they moved to Clarkston in 1950, where Dad took a job at Potlatch Corp. in Lewiston. After another son, Michael, was born in 1951, they moved to their present location on Seventh Street in Clarkston. Janice (1955) and Bruce (1960) joined the family later.
Dad retired from Potlatch in 1988. He continued to do the things he loved: anything in the woods, cooking and gardening. He still has roses in his backyard that are more than 60 years old. Dad loved to barbecue and also smoke turkeys, chickens, fish and all kinds of cheese. To put it simply, he was the best at it. And he loved to share it with his family and friends.
Mel is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Jane; son Melvin and Toni Van Dyk, of College Place, Wash.; son Michael and Marge Van Dyk, of Garden Valley, Idaho; daughter Janice and John Forgey, of Yakima; and son Bruce and Diane Van Dyk, of Clarkston; also 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
His was preceded in death by his parents, Gerrit Melvin and Hazel Van Dyk; brother Gilbert; sisters Vivian, Virginia and Norma; also a great-grandson, Jacob.
There will be graveside services with military honors at 10 a.m. Friday at Vineland Cemetery in Clarkston. A luncheon will follow at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2673 13th St., Clarkston.
Merchant Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.