Gerald Elden Melchin was born to Arthur and Rosetta
Melchin on 14 May 1921. He grew up in Raymond, Alberta, where he was living
when called to serve a full-time mission.
Missionary work has been an important part of Elder
Melchin’s life. In fact, Gerald Melchin and Evelyn Knowles first met while
they were missionaries in the East Canada Mission. “My period of service
in the mission ended before Evelyn’s,” recalls Elder Melchin, “so, since
the war was still on in 1944, I entered the Royal Canadian Air Force, becoming
a pilot officer shortly before the end of World War II. Evelyn and I continued
writing each other.”
Once he was discharged, Brother Melchin was eager
to visit the Knowles family in Ogden, Utah, to ask for Evelyn’s hand in
marriage. Her parents had already been impressed with Gerald because of
a letter from the mission president’s wife, saying, “I
would willingly line up my daughters, and Gerald Melchin could take
his pick of them.”
With such endorsement, it didn’t take long to arrange
a wedding in the Logan Temple. Looking back on their years together, Sister
Melchin says, “My husband is the kindest man I know.”
After thirteen years, they left Raymond for Calgary,
where Brother Melchin remembers the great challenge—which now seems more
humorous than difficult—of being called by stake president N. Eldon Tanner
to be the stake dance director. Elder
Melchin recalls: “I really did not want to do it. I didn’t dance—didn’t
like to dance.But I had promised the Lord that I would do what he asked.”
President Tanner said later that he knew just what kind of man Gerald Melchin
was when he accepted that call.
Calgary was also where Elder Melchin served as bishop
and later as stake president, Sister Melchin served in the Young Women
organization and as ward and then stake Relief Society president. She also
shared her rich soprano voice by singing solos and directing choirs.
When Gerald was called to preside over the California
Arcadia Mission in 1972, he and Evelyn sold the business they owned with
his brother Howard, which had become the largest auto transport business
in western Canada.
Four years ago, Brother Melchin was called to be
a Regional Representative.
Well acquainted with service in the Church, the Melchins
have now accepted a full-time call that requires leaving their seven children
and twenty-six grandchildren. “Leaving them is the greatest sacrifice,”
they agree. Missing an important part of the
development and growth of grandchildren and the events of their young
lives requires devotion to the gospel and an eternal perspective of family
relations. “We have faith that the Lord will be with them,” Elder Melchin
President N. Eldon Tanner’s words come to mind again,
only this time applied to both Elder and Sister Melchin: one can easily
see what kind of people would accept such a call.
LDS Church News Archives,
Saturday, November 19, 1988\
EX-DANCE DIRECTOR TAKES CALL 'ONE STEP AT A TIME'\
Gerry Avant, Church News assistant editor\
About 30 years ago, Gerald E. Melchin was called
to a position in the Church he felt he couldn't fulfill very well. He and
his wife, Evelyn, and their young family had recently moved from Raymond,
Alberta, to Calgary, where the stake president was N. Eldon Tanner, who later served 22 years as a General Authority including 19 years in the
The Melchins were called to serve as stake dance directors. "I
told one of the counselors in the stake presidency I didn't know how to
dance," he said.
The call was still extended. To his wife's surprise, Gerald Melchin
accepted it. "I had made a commitment that I would serve in any position
to which I was called," he said. "There was nothing I could do but say,
"I will serve.' "
It was with that same commitment that Elder Gerald E. Melchin
accepted a call to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy. Elder Melchin,
67, was sustained in general conference Oct. 1.
He said he knows as little now about being a General Authority
as he knew then about how to dance, but he approaches his call with faith,
"literally taking one step at a time."
As things turned out, the Melchins were successful dance directors,
but only after a lot of hard work. "We went to Lethbridge for a training
session," he recalled. "Everyone else knew all the terms and steps and
were just dancing away, and we didn't know anything. We were lost on the
dance floor. When we went home, I studied the steps and Evelyn put in the
rhythm for the dances. We had a wonderful time."
Those who knew Gerald Melchin were not surprised at his willingness
to learn how to dance in order to serve in the Church. Ever since his boyhood
days in western Canada, he has felt a strong commitment to serve, even
when it has been difficult.
He was born in Kitchener, Ontario, but grew up in Raymond, Alberta.
"My grandfather Melchin became ill so we returned to Kitchener for about
a year," he said. "I was a teenager. That was the first time I really got
involved with serving in the Church. It was a small branch, and everybody
had an assignment. I was called on to speak very often, and I became involved
in working with the full-time missionaries.
"After I returned to Raymond, I was talking with some friends
with whom I had grown up. I remember how disappointed I was when, as we
talked about the Prophet Joseph Smith, they said they didn't know if they believed he was really a prophet. They had been in the Church all their
lives. It was really a sad experience for me.
"I had never doubted any part of the gospel as a young boy. I
had always believed my parents and Sunday School teachers, but I think
I gained my real testimony when I started to read the Book of Mormon when
I was 17. My father was the only one on his side of the family who had
joined the Church, but Grandfather AmosT Willis was baptized in about 1920.
"He was a great one to sit and talk to me. His conversion was
interesting. Two missionaries were walking one day in Kitchner. They were
discouraged because they had not met anyone who would listen to their message.
As they passed by my grandfather's house, they heard music playing on a
phonograph. The record was a song that had been sung at their farewells.
They walked up to the house and stood quietly by the door, listening to
the music. They did not knock.
"Grandfather Willis saw them standing there and invited them in.
He was a Bible student. He accepted their message right away. Sometimes,
it is almost overwhelming to think of all the family members who came into
the Church because of him."
Having heard his grandfather's conversion story recounted so many
times and seeing first-hand the blessings the gospel brings to a family
and individuals, he eagerly accepted a call to serve in the Eastern Canadian
Mission from 1942-44.
After his mission, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He
became a wireless air gunner, and was commissioned an officer just before
World War II ended. "They didn't need air crews any more, so I was one
of the first ones released," he said.
After he was discharged from military service, he began a courtship
with Evelyn Knowles of Ogden, Utah, whom he had met while on his mission.
She was serving as a secretary in the mission office.
They were married in the Logan (Utah) Temple July 12, 1945. They
are parents of seven children: Richard, Shauna, Robyn, Gregory, Brook,
Wade and Barbara. They have 26 grandchildren.
Elder and Sister Melchin made their home in Raymond, Alberta,
where he and his brother began an automobile dealership. In about 1949,
the brothers started an auto transport company. Their business became the
largest such company in western Canada, which made it necessary for Elder
and Sister Melchin to move to Calgary, into the stake in which he was called
as dance director.
In 1962 he was called as bishop of the Calgary 3rd Ward. When
the Calgary North Stake was created in 1966, he was called as stake president.
From 1972 to 1975, he was president of the California Arcadia
Mission, after which time he served on a stake high council and as the
Calgary welfare region agent.
He had devoted as much time to serving in the Church as anyone
could ever expect, but he felt he could do more. One day in 1984, while
visiting in Logan, Utah, he walked to the top of a mountain where he pondered
his service in the Church. "In essence, I told the Lord I was ready to
do more," Elder Melchin said. "Whatever He wanted me to do, wherever He
wanted me to go, I was ready."
When Elder Melchin returned from the mountain to his hotel room,
the telephone was ringing. A call was extended for him to serve as a regional
representative, a position in which he was serving at the time he was called
as a General Authority.
"I have received so many blessings and witnessed so many miracles
that I havealways felt a strong desire to devote my life to serving the
Lord," Elder Melchin said.
The blessings and miracles began early in his life. At age 3,
a priesthood blessing restored him to health when he nearly died from pneumonia.
He has seen the power of the priesthood bless his own family.
Before he was called as a bishop, one of his daughters was born with a
difficult heart situation. "We thought we were going to lose her," Elder
Melchin said. "Through the priesthood, blessed her, and I knew instantly
she would be well. Although doctors did not think she would live, she is
married and raising a family. I have learned the Lord can do anything He
wishes to do."
Elder Melchin recalled a period of great financial difficulty
he and his brother encountered in their auto transport business when they
had to expand the size of trailers in order to conform to new government
"The banker and finance company told us to quit the business,"
Elder Melchin said. "We didn't want to give up, but we were concerned about
our financial situation. We went to visit an old friend, our stake patriarch,
who prayed with us and blessed us with peace of mind. He said, "I can promise
you that if you serve the Lord at all times, you will prosper. It may take
time, but you will prosper.' I determined then that whatever the Lord asked
me to do, I would do it."
Elder Melchin's call to the First Quorum of the Seventy
was for a period of five years. When the Second Quorum was established
for Seventy serving such calls, he was transferred to that quorum on April
1, 1989. Elder Melchin faithfully served his five-year call to the
Second Quorum of the Seventy and was honorably released October 1, 1994.
Following his tenure as a General Authority, Elder Melchin continued to serve the Lord as President of the Toronto Ontario Temple from 1993 to 1996.