State Senate honors local man after his death

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   Just over a month after his passing, the Tennessee General Assembly issued a proclamation honoring an Elizabethton man as an "exceptional public servant and human being."
   The proclamation honoring David Vance Melton was sponsored by Sen. Rusty Crowe and was signed by Speaker of the Senate John Wilder. Melton was 76 at the time of his death in April of this year.
   "Mr. Melton leaves behind an indelible legacy of integrity and probity in public life, compassion and loyalty in private life, and diligence and dedication in all chosen endeavors," states the proclamation. "Mr. Melton was an exemplary public servant and consummate professional who worked assiduously to improve the quality of life for his fellow citizens in numerous capacities.
   "It is fitting that this General Assembly should pause to remember the bountiful life of this exceptional public servant and human being."
   Melton, who was a native of Asheville, N.C., moved with his family to Elizabethton at a young age when his father secured employment with the Tennessee Valley Authority helping to build the Watauga Dam.
   At the tender age of 12, Melton quit school in order to help support his family. He was the oldest of eight children.
   As a teenager, Melton worked for free in a dental laboratory so he could learn the trade of making false teeth and dentures. That experience would return to help him later in life when in 1950 he founded the Elizabethton Dental Laboratory, which he operated until the time of his death.
   Melton later joined the military. "During World War II, Mr. Melton assured himself a place of honor among the Greatest Generation when he courageously defended his country against her enemies as a member of the United States Army," the proclamation states.
   In addition to serving his country, Melton also served his community in many different capacities. "In addition to his professional endeavors, he served with acumen and alacrity as a Carter County Commissioner for six years (1966-1972), in which position he earned the respect of his colleagues and constituents alike for his stalwart commitment to the public safety and welfare," the proclamation states.
   Melton also founded and served as President of the Elizabethton Optimist Club. He was a member of the Elizabethton Elk's Lodge and the Captain Lynn H. Folsom Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2166. He served as the Chief Judge for the Upper East Tennessee Golden Gloves Boxing Association and in 1996 he represented Carter County as a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
   "His singular legacy of public service was appropriately honored in 1971, when he was named 'Outstanding Citizen' and awarded the Key to the City of Elizabethton," states the proclamation. "Mr. Melton's remarkable success as a public servant and civic leader was directly attributable to his reliance on the time-honored values of hard work and common sense and his uncommon ability to work well with people from all walks of life."
   In 1976, he showed his belief in the value of education when he attained his high school equivalency diploma after "considerable effort and preparation," according to the proclamation.
   "He was also a pragmatic man who believed in facing his problems head on, yet he could see the humor in every conceivable situation and was truly a pleasure to be around."
   At the time of his death, Melton left behind two daughters and sons-in-law, Brenda and Stephen Keene, Elizabethton, and Lisa Kay and William E. Stanbery, Dandridge; two sons and a daughter-in-law, Steve Melton and Mike and Barbara Melton, all of Elizabethton; four sisters, Lucy Anders, High Point, N.C., Jurelle Smith, Elizabethton, Ella Mae Sluder, Weaverville, N.C., and LaVerne Todd, Claxton, Ga.; two brothers, Powell Melton, Elizabethton, and the Rev. Carroll Melton, Black Mountain, N.C.; four grandsons, Marcus W. Keene, Christopher E. Stanbery, Vance Melton and Dan Melton; and a great-granddaughter, Haley Morgan Keene.