John Melcher served as a Montana Congressman for twenty years before passing away on Thursday, April 12. John passed away in his family home in Missoula, Montana, according to his daughter, Joan.
He was born in Sioux City, Iowa on September 6, 1924, to Anthony Melcher and Nell Mentor, who divorced when he was 8. John and his brother, Robert, stayed with his dad’s relatives while his dad went on the road as a traveling salesman. Although when he was older he would occasionally accompany his father, and that was when he fell in love with Montana.
He grew up in Dubuque and Ashton, Iowa, on a little ranch only 10 miles outside of Oelrichs, South Dakota. He would often ride a horse to and from Oelrichs High School, before graduating in 1942.
A World War II veteran and large animal veterinarian, his life in politics began as a small town alderman. In 1969, as a 45-year-old, he went to Washington as one of Montana’s two U.S. Representatives. In January of 1977, Mr. Mansfield, the longtime majority leader, retired, and John stepped up to serve two full Senate terms until 1989.
He married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Klein, and together they had six children. One of their son’s, David, passed away from Reye’s syndrome at only 6 years old.
In January 1978, veteran Senator Lee Metcalf passed away, leaving Dr. Melcher to become Montana’s senior senator. Melcher dedicated his time in office to defending farm subsidies and animal welfare, doing everything he could to help.
In 1984, he made an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, requiring that researchers take into account the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates. His work earned him the attention of famed primatologist, Jane Goodall, who thanked him for the work he had done to help take care of animals.
Please pray for John’s family as he will be sorely missed by his children, 10 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
This is a horrible story, and we know that sometimes we need a reminder of the good in the world at a time like this, so be sure to check out the video below!