Bowdoinham-Commander Errol N. Melander, United States Navy, retired, died unexpectedly on July 7, 2010 at home in his workshop while listening to talk radio and building bunk beds for his grandchildren. He was seventy-two years young. He was born at Hahnemann Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, 14 May 1938, the son of Ero Konstantine and Francesca Margaret Steiner Melander.
He attended General Artemis Ward Elementary School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, and graduated Major Howard Beal High School, also in Shrewsbury, with the class of 1955. He graduated Stockbridge School of Agriculture and the University of Massachusetts, both in Amherst, Mass, with an ABS and BS in Forestry. He also attended Worcester Junior College and George Washington University Graduate School. He was an oarsman in eights and fours in high school and played hockey in college.
During his junior high school through college days, after several years as a paperboy, Errol worked at the famous Spag's Supply in Shrewsbury. During college summers he worked for the United States Forest Service in National Forests in California, Montana, and Washington state. He also took summer employment with the James W. Sewall Company in Old Town.
The Commander, as he was affectionately called by many, attended Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, being commissioned Ensign, United States Navy, in 1962. He was assigned to the USS Tingey (DD-539), USS Purdy (DD-734), USS Charles Berry (DE-1035), and USS Portland (LSD-35), serving as Damage Control Assistant, Main Propulsion Assistant, Engineer Officer, and Executive Officer. He volunteered for duty in the Republic of Vietnam, as an Advisor to the Vietnamese Navy, serving in Qui Nhon, RVN, during 1966-1967. He attended the U.S. Naval Destroyer School in Newport, the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA, and the PCO/PXO School in Newport. He was on the staff of Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force; and Chief Staff Officer, Commander Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Six, "The Mod Squad". His final tour of duty, before retiring, was as Executive Officer at the Recruit Training Command in Orlando, FL.
He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, with Combat V; Navy Achievement Medal; Meritorious Unit Commendation; Navy "E" Ribbon; Navy Unit commendation; National Defense Service Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Color w/Palm); Republic of Vietnam Unit Citation (Civil Actions Medal, First Class w/Palm).
Errol retired from the U.S. Navy in 1981 as a full commander. He and his family then built a home in Bowdoinham, and he gained employment at Bath Iron Works, Bath, ME, as a Systems Engineer, taking early retirement in 1995. Since, he has devoted his time to his hobbies of building and rehabing post and beam structures and barns, tending a large garden and preserving all sorts of pickles and relishes. He enjoyed giving away fresh vegetables as well as his pickles, relishes, and his famous pesto. "Pop pop" enjoyed woodworking and was kept busy making changing tables, cribs, beds, and desks for his children and grandchildren. He loved working in the woods and cutting firewood, for their wood stove, for many years. He was an avid fan of his children's sports activities and missed very few games and meets as they played soccer, hockey, lacrosse, ran track, dove, and swam, both in high school and college. He took great delight in making critiques of sports coverage in the local newspapers, being on a first name basis with the local sports editors. He also enjoyed writing letters to the editor on subjects that he had strong feelings about.
The Commander was a member of the U.S.Naval Institute. He was secretary for the Coastal Soccer Club for many years. He was on the Topsham and Bowdoinham Recreation Boards, and coached all of his children in the Topsham Youth Soccer Program. He was a member of the Maine Christmas Tree Growers Association, the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, and the American Tree Farm Association. He was a member of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Brunswick.
Errol was predeceased by his father and mother and by a younger brother, Paul Kenneth Melander.
He is survived by his loving wife Patricia (Patty) of 43 years. He also leaves four children, a son, Dr. Matthew Paul Melander and his wife Rebecca, of Saint Louis, Missouri; a daughter Amy James Melander Campbell and her husband Darin, of Durham, North Carolina; a daughter, Ann Perkins Melander Freeman, Esquire, and her husband Josh, of Portland; and a son, Mark Steiner Melander and his wife, Amanda, of Natick, MA. "Pop pop" had nine grandchildren, Noah Zachary and Chloe' Day Campbell; Francesca Mae and Elsa Ryan Freeman; Willa Stewart, Adelaide Wells and Lucia Errol Melander; and Margaret Patricia and Anneliese Victoria Melander.
A celebration of his life will be held at his home on 92 Fisher Road in Bowdoinham, Maine on Sunday, July 11th at 1pm. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine or the Mt. Ararat Sports Boosters.