Melvin was born in?Srague,?Wash., April 22, 1923, to Fred and Grace Ella (Calvert) Bilyeu. During his early years, Melvin and his family lived in Deer Park,?Wash., where he attended Deer Park?Elementary School. His strong moral character and work ethic showed itself at an early age as Melvin wrote about “being honest to family and country,” in a school essay in his second year of school, in which he completed both second and third grades.
He was an intgral part of the family ranch operations in his teen years when he and his family later moved to?Reardon,?Wash. Known as “Buck” in his high school years, Melvin graduated from?Reardon High?School in 1940. He left Reardon after high school to receive training as an electrician at Coyne Electrical School in?Chicago, Il., which he completed in 1941.
Returning to?Washington, Melvinmarried his high school sweetheart, Lorene Nielson on?Sept. 2, 1941, and they set up household in?Seatlle,?Wash. Between the years 1941 and 1944, Melvin worked for Boeing and Todd Pacific Shipyards and added two children to the family. He was drafted into the Navy in 1944 and moved Lorene and the children to the Spokane area so they could be closer to family while he was away.
Melvin received his initial training at?Farragut Naval Training Station in Farragut, Idaho, and was then stationed at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Jacksonville, Fla., until the completion of his military service in 1946. He was awarded the American?Area Camapagin Medal and the World War II Victory Medal for his service. Melvin returned to?Spokane,?Wash., taking up the electrical trade once again. Two more children were added to the family. Raising children and working took up most of his time, but he did find time to try his hand at racing horses a few times in the small communities of Deep?Park,?Wash. and Colville, Wash.
Melvin packed up his family and headed to Dayville, ore. in late 1951, where he took over a cattle ranch. The Bilyeus lived in?Dayville until 1958, when they moved to Prineville. here, Melvin once again took up the electrical trade, first working for Redmond Electric and later forming his own business, Bilyeu Electric. It was in Prineville that their fifth and final child was born. In addition to running his electrical business, Melvin, along with opartner, Howard Fall, subdivided and sold land near Prineville Reservoir, where the Bilyeus had moved in 1970.
Throughout his life, Melvin enjoyed a variety of activities and interests, including completing jigsaw puzzles, many of which he built frames for and gave away as gifts. He and his family took up boating and water skiing in their early years in Prineville, even adventuring up the Columbia River with their boating club. He was an avid reader, espeically of Westerns,, and a big supporter of Crook?County Library. He was a great storyteller, remembering details like no one else. After retirement, Melvin and Lorene enjoyed traveling many weeks of the year, from the warm deserts of California and Arizona to the great fishing lakes of Montana. Melvin had also been a 50-plus year member of both the local Elks and Masonic lodges.
Melvin was meticulous in all he did, and taught those around him, especially his children, the importance of a strong work ethic. “It is far better to measure twice and cut once, being accurate, than to make a mistake and have it cost you doubel.” He was a generous man, utilizing his creative and woodworking skills to complete dozens of wooden toys, which he donated to?Doernbecher Chidlren’s Hospital in Portland and in building hundreds of wooden bird houses for the Oregon?Department of?Fish and Wildlife.
Melvin is survived by his wife, Lorene Bilyeu of Prineville; five children, Fred Bilyeu of Vancouver,?Wash., Larry Bilyeu of Eugene, Ore., Valerie Bilyeu Davis, Curtis Bilyeu, and Cheri Bilyeu Brennan--all of Mountain Home, Idaho; sic grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren.
Melvin is preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Grace; his sister, Berniece Bilyeu Williams, and one grandchild.
Much of Melvin’s life can be summed up in the words from President Abraham Lincoln,”I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”
Dad, thank you for all the things you taught us..espceially when we thought we already knew it all. You are loved and you will be greatly mised.
No services will be held at this time. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations please be made to the Prineville Memorial Hospice, 1201 N.E. Elm St., Prineville, OR 97754, whose various staff members have meant so much to Melvin and his family.