Melvin “Mel” Weber: farmer, community leader, life-long student, was born near Hawkesville, Ontario, Canada on 2 August 1927 to Aaron Weber (19 May 1895-21 May 1985) and Esther Reesor (30 September 1893-14 September 1972). He was the youngest of four boys; he had one younger sister. Esther Martin (born 31 October 1933) became his wife on 3 October 1953 at the Hawkesville Mennonite Church. They became parents of Gloria, Donald, Marlene, Kathryn and Dennis. They were grandparents to eight. On 31 August 2004 Melvin and Esther were killed in an automobile accident in northern Michigan. They were on their way home from a wedding in Winnipeg. The funeral service was held at St. Jacobs Mennonite Church on 8 September 2004; they are buried in the Hawkesville cemetery.
Melvin grew up in the Old Order Mennonite tradition on a farm in the Hawkesville area. He was an excellent student at Bricker School, and received the gold medal for top academic honors in the eighth grade. He then worked on the home farm until age 21; during those years he also served as a 4-H Club leader. As part of “a daring adventure” he worked in a logging camp in British Columbia from a desire to explore life beyond his local Mennonite community.
After their marriage, the Webers lived with Melvin`s parents on their farm. Later they moved to Esther`s family farm and entered the dairy business. They also maintained a large maple syrup operation. Melvin served as president of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, and president of the Ontario Maple Syrup Museum in St. Jacobs. Until his death he was tour director for excursions to his farm during the annual Maple Syrup Festival in nearby Elmira. He also was a business partner in the Farm Pantry, a store in St. Jacobs.
In 1985 Melvin and Esther moved to the town of Elmira. Their son Dennis took over the farm. But Melvin took up woodworking in a shop on the farm, and became a skilled furniture maker. He also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Melvin also enjoyed ice skating and brisk walks--activities he continued into his senior years.
Melvin was an avid reader and a scholar. As an adult he enrolled at Wilfrid Laurier University, attending classes on Saturdays and in the evenings. At age 55 he received a B.A. degree in philosophy and religious studies. He said that he didn`t want his children to be more highly educated than him.
At Hawkesville Mennonite Church, where he and Esther were members, Melvin served as a Sunday School teacher, worship leader, and became involved with various musical groups. He had a love of classical music and fostered in his children a love for a wide variety of music. He sang in quartets and Mennonite Mass Choirs. For many years he served as a volunteer at The Mennonite Story, an interpretive centre in St. Jacobs. Melvin enjoyed engaging in conservation with international visitors. His ability to converse in German was an asset.
Melvin was an integral part of Mennonite Aid Union. He served on its board for many years, including a time as chairman. He held that position when the Mennonite Aid Union made the transformation to MAX Canada in the early 2000s. Melvin was the Hawkesville congregation’s Mennonite Mutual Aid representative.
Over the years, Esther and Melvin provided a foster home for many troubled boys. Esther was a volunteer at the Elmira Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store and also at various businesses in St. Jacobs--including the Farm Pantry.
Melvin loved to mentor, teach, instruct, and share his knowledge. He served as a mentor in the local Youth Advocacy Program. In a 2004 university essay entitled “Celebrating The Harvest,” Melvin’s daughter, Kathryn Van Bradt, wrote in depth about her father. Among her many tributes, she stated: “Like Ulysses, Dad was always seeking new adventures, searching for ways to make his life more meaningful, reading endlessly and welcoming any friend or stranger with a philosophical question to discuss.”
Hill, Valerie. “Webers ‘had a smile’ for all.” Kitchener-Waterloo Record (4 September 2004): B2.
“Melvin & Esther Weber.” Kitchener-Waterloo Record (3 September 2004): B5.
“Melvin R. Weber.” Ezra Eby Revived!: Ontario Mennonite, Amish, and Brethren in Christ family history. Web. http://www.ezraeeby.com/getperson.php?personID=I25456&tree=mennonite (accessed 29 October 2013).
Nighswander, Marlene. Interview by author. Elmira, Ont. (2013).
Scheifele, Nelson. Interview by author. St. Jacobs, Ont. (2013).
Van Bradt, Kathryn. Interview by author. Elmira, Ont. (2013)
|Date Published||October 2013|
Cite This Article
Gingrich, Del. "Weber, Melvin Reesor (1927-2004)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2013. Web. 21 Aug 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Weber,_Melvin_Reesor_(1927-2004)&oldid=103089.
Gingrich, Del. (October 2013). Weber, Melvin Reesor (1927-2004). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 August 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Weber,_Melvin_Reesor_(1927-2004)&oldid=103089.
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