Melvin Bitter, 1920-2017

Melvin Bitter

The Rev. Melvin Bitter, 96, of Hayesville, North Carolina, passed away Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017.

The second son of Mary and Ferdinand Bitter, Melvin was born in Hoisington, Kansas on March 15, 1920. He spent most of his childhood years with his brothers, Paul, Gehart and Fred in San Francisco, California, where he was All San Francisco basketball and track in high school. While serving his country in the Coast Guard during World War II, Melvin met the love of his life, Gertrude R. Jungen, who was playing the piano at the USO in New York City.

In their wonderful marriage of 71 years, Melvin and Gertrude were blessed with six children, including two sets of twins. Melvin was preceded in death by his daughters Regina and Christine. He is survived by his loving wife, Gertrude; sons Paul (Martha McAfee), John (Mary Johnson) and Mark (whose live-in support was of immeasurable help); and daughter Pam (Cliff Obertuck), along with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Melvin lived a fruitful life of service. Having degrees from Concordia Theological Seminary and San Diego State University, his vocational life was spent primarily in ministry having served Lutheran churches in California, First Congregational Church in North Brookfield, Mass., and Methodist churches in Arkansas (where he served appointments through the Little Rock Conference in Dierks, Hope and Pine Bluff), Florida and North Carolina. Melvin also served as a missionary to the Truk Islands in Micronesia and as a hospice chaplain later in life. He taught high school for several years in San Diego, California, and North Brookfield, Massachusetts.

Melvin had a great love for the outdoors, especially enjoying water sports, sailing, motorcycling through the countryside, horseback riding and camping with Gertrude and the family. In his later years, he enjoyed gardening and making walking sticks, which have found their way into the hands of walkers and hikers from North Carolina to Texas.

Melvin began each day with early morning Bible reading and prayer, and attempted however imperfectly to respond to God’s call in every aspect of his life. He treasured meeting people and will be greatly missed by his family and many friends who were blessed by his “one of a kind” personality, sense of humor, and devotion to the wellbeing and faith journeys of others.

Visitation and graveside service were held Jan. 12, with interment at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Murphy. The Rev. Paul Bitter officiated. Military graveside rites were conducted by the V.F.W. Post #10222, Joe Miller Elkin American Legion Post #96 and D.A.V. Chapter #73 and American Legion Post #532 of Hayesville and V.F.W. Post #6812.

The family wishes to express their thanks to the wonderful caregivers from Four Season Hospice.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Gideons International, P.O. Box 164, Murphy, NC 28906.