Melvie, Erwin Conrad “Erv” (1942-2014)

Erwin Melvie, 72, of Viking, MN, died Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at Altru Hospital, Grand Forks, ND.

Funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday, December 22, 2014 at New Hope Lutheran Church, Newfolden, MN with Pastor Ollie Urdahl officiating. Burial will follow at Bethlehem Cemetery, Newfolden, MN.

Visitation will be held from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM with a 5:00 PM Prayer Service on Sunday, December 21, 2014 at Johnson Funeral Service, Thief River Falls, MN. Visitation will also be held one hour prior to the service at the church on Monday.

Erwin “Erv” Conrad Melvie was born on April 3, 1942 in Thief River Falls, MN to Ernest T. and Alma (Rust) Melvie. He grew up on the family farm in rural Viking Township, Marshall County. He attended grade school at Indian Trail and Numedal District 147 (both country schools), and also the Viking Consolidated Elementary School through the 8th grade. Erwin graduated from Newfolden High School in 1959, then attended UND in Grand Forks, ND where he was a member of the ROTC unit.

Erwin married Viola Scott on July 20, 1963 in Thief River Falls. They made their home on the Melvie family farm, where they raised their four children: Sherri, Alan, Jill and Joel.

Erv spent much of his life behind the wheel of large trucks or operating heavy machinery. He worked for a short time for City Cab and Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls and for Detroiter Mobile Homes in Red Lake Falls, MN before joining his father and brother in the gravel business in the ’60s. This business continued on as Melvie Trucking through the mid ’90s. Simultaneously, for over two decades Erv spent his Saturdays hauling the Sunday edition of the Star Tribune from Minneapolis to northwest MN on the TRF Relay. He was also a US Mail contractor for the twice-daily TRF to Hallock/Oslo mail routes, enlisting his father, wife, and children to help in the summers. When his weekends were no longer consumed with the Tribune run, Erv – again, with the help of family and friends – delivered the Shopper (now the Northern Watch) for the Times. During this time he also drove for Northwest Grain/CHS of St. Hilaire, MN until retiring in 2010. Twenty-seven years, 1.2 million papers, several vehicles and many thousands of miles later, he delivered his last paper in 2013.

Ever the sports enthusiast, Erv played as hard as he worked. In the ’60s, Erv was instrumental in bringing independent basketball to the area when he organized the Viking Trotters men’s basketball team. In the ’70s and early ’80s, you could find him playing or umpiring at slow and fast pitch softball games in the summers. In the winter months, he was crushing pins at the Family Bowl during League and tournament bowling. And during its heyday in the ’70s when the I-500 snowmobile race ran from Winnipeg to St. Paul, Erv was one of the gutsiest competitors on the grueling course. In 1971, Erv won the Hamm’s True Grit Award for perseverance in the race. Driving a Viking snowmobile, he busted a ski and drove 80 miles balancing on one ski. He blew the clutch three different times. He came around a blind corner in the woods south of Walker and crashed into another snowmobile, catapulting himself through his own windshield. He drove the final 50 miles with a cracked chain case and no oil and a leaking fuel tank, but he made it across the finish line in St. Paul. His share of the purse was just $38, but the $1,000 True Grit award and commemorative stein provided a lifetime of stories and memories.

Erwin is survived by his children, Sherri Melvie of Viking, MN, Alan Melvie and son Logan of Crookston, MN, Jill (Kevin) Thompson and son Adam of Park Rapids, MN, and Joel Melvie of Thief River Falls, MN; brother, Ernie (Theresa) Melvie of Viking, MN; sisters, Marilyn Wahl of Greenbush, MN, Carolyn (Louis) Hugg of Andover, MN, Orlette (Al) Gjerde of Longville, MN, and Darleen Bogue of Hackensack, MN; several nieces and nephews, and many relatives and friends.

He is preceded in death by his wife Vi in 2011 and his parents.

Transcribed by: Cheryl Srnsky