Obituary: Melvin Richard Compestine
Steamboat Springs native Melvin Richard Compestine stepped into the presence of his Lord and Savior in the early morning hours of February 6, 2020, less than two weeks after his 89th birthday.
Mel was born on January 25, 1931, to Louis and Juanita (Fletcher) Compestine. The young family included his brother Jim, two years older, as well as his maternal grandparents and his mother’s youngest sister, who grew up alongside Mel and Jim. As young boys, the brothers roamed the valley fly fishing in the rivers and streams. Mel became a graceful and elegant fly fisherman and enjoyed camping and fishing in the mountains all his life. Sister Catherine joined the family some twelve years later, and she would always be the apple of his eye.
As a teenager, Mel met his sweetheart, Grace Howe. He and Jim worked nights and weekends at Law Drug and Grace took tickets at the Chief Theater, so Mel would catch the end of the movie after work and walk her home. Grace graduated from high school in 1950, and they were married in November of that year. Mel and Grace celebrated their 69th Anniversary in November, and they remained deeply in love all those years, rarely spending a night apart.
Mel was drafted in 1952, and like most recruits in those years, including his brother Jim, thought he was headed for Korea. But a recruiter discovered that Mel could type 60 words a minute, so he was diverted into Supply instead. He was sent to Augsburg, Germany, and served there for two years. While there he traveled around Germany and as far away as Rome, and he loved to tell stories of his time in the Army and his travels, especially in Italy.
Upon his return to Steamboat Springs in 1954, Mel and Grace settled in and started a family. Daughter Diana came along the next year, with son Doug and daughter Cheryl following not long after. Mel worked for many years as Produce Manager at Safeway, then moved to Gambles on Lincoln Avenue, where he worked for over 20 years. When Gambles closed in 1988, Mel found work at the Steamboat Springs True Value and worked there until his retirement at age 62.
Mel and Grace happily spent their retirement years in Steamboat, traveling a bit, enjoying their family, and participating in the social activities the valley has to offer. When Grace learned to quilt, Mel enthusiastically took up a similar craft, learning to make stained glass wall hangings and lamps. Over the years he proudly collected many Champion, Reserve Grand Champion, and Grand Champion ribbons from the Routt County Fair. He filled their home with beautiful pieces he had made, as well as hundreds of crystals that fill the windows. He was active in local churches for most of his adult life, serving as a Deacon at Euzoa Bible Church for many years, and was actively involved at Steamboat Bible Church until shortly before his death, when his health precluded his participation. He loved his family wholeheartedly and took great pride in the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren. He was a deeply funny man and enjoyed nothing more than making others laugh with his stories of growing up in Steamboat, especially with the help of his brother Jim.
Mel was a content, happy man, blessed with the life-long love of a wonderful woman. He was an unassuming but wise man who lived his life with kindness and integrity, surrounded by the family he created. He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
Mel is survived by his wife, Grace, daughters Diana Steverson of Englewood, and Cheryl (Phil) Spahr of Steamboat Springs, son Doug (Debbie) Compestine of Custer, South Dakota, grandchildren Natalie Steverson (Aaron) Johnson of Arvada, Nicholas Steverson of Boulder, Eric Spahr of Steamboat Springs, and Jesse Compestine of Lander, Wyoming, brother Jim (Katherine) Compestine of Craig, sister Catherine (Tom) Henessee of Loveland, and cousin Modesto (Jr.) (Doris) Compestine of Steamboat Springs.
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