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Obituary of Melvin “Mel” J. Zuidema

Staff By Staff Jan4,2024

Melvin “Mel” J. Zuidema passed away peacefully at Peace Hospice House on December 20, 2023, at the age of 74, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

He was the only son of Orie and Gertrude Zuidema. He was born in Conrad on January 11, 1949. Being raised as an only child, Mel had to develop a way to make friends into family, which he did his entire life. Mel attended Franklin Elementary School, West Junior High, and CM Russell High School, graduating in 1969. After graduation he attended Northern Montana College for a year. While there he met the love of his life, Barb. In January of 1971 he saw a pretty girl across the cafeteria and decided to ask her to his birthday party, being the stubborn woman she was, her response was, I have my own birthday party to attend. Well, Mel decided to cancel his own party and go to hers, and the rest is history.

Mel and Barb were married in June of 1972 and moved to Great Falls. Barb’s family quickly became his family. For the first years of their young marriage, he was a carpenter and even built their family home on Gore Hill in Great Falls, where he raised his family. After having kids, he went to work at the fairgrounds in Great Falls, where he worked for 25 years. After retiring from the fairgrounds, he needed to find something to keep himself busy, as his wife told him so, so he sprayed mosquitoes for Cascade County, worked security at the Charlie Russell Museum, and then ending his working career at the Great Falls Ice Plex driving the Zamboni, one of his favorite things to do.

While Mel wanted 12 children, God had different plans and only blessed Mel and Barb with two children, a son, Josh in May of 1977 and a daughter, Melanie in July of 1980. He enjoyed coaching both kids in many different sports such as baseball, basketball, and football.

In his free time, he loved to camp, hunt, golf, and bowl. He belonged to the Great Falls Barbershop singers, was a volunteer firefighter for the Gore Hill and Ulm Volunteer Fire Departments, volunteered with Fish Wildlife and Parks as a shuttle driver, and loved to socialize at his favorite bars, even if it was with strangers. He loved to cheer for his beloved sports teams including the New York Yankees and the Green Bay Packers.

Mel was preceded in death by his parents, Orie and Gertude Zuidema and his parents-in-law, Mac and Nan McLaughlin.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Barb Zuidema; son, Josh (Tammy) Zuidema; daughter, Melanie Zuidema (Joe Philipps); grandson, John (Shelby) Zuidema; granddaughters, Teagan Fee and Morgan (Blaine) Ammar; two great-granddaughters, Brooklyn and Delaney Zuidema; sisters-in-law whom he considered sisters, Kathy (Gary) Brady and Patty (Dean) Boyle; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.

In accordance with Mel’s wishes to “put him in a pine box and throw him in the ground, and then have one hell of a party,” there will be a private graveside service at Highland Cemetery on January 5, 2024, followed by a celebration of life at the Black Eagle Community Center at 2:00 pm. Mel’s family would like to thank the staff at the Beehive Maple House for the care he received there for a year and a half as well as the nurses and staff at the Peace Hospice House for the wonderful care he received the last few days of his life. Memorials in Mel’s name can be made to Peace Hospice House of Great Falls or the Benefis Foundation.

Staff
Author: Staff

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  • Staff

    Our Staff account is used to publish submitted content. If you have content that was published under this account, and wish to have your name as author, please contact us at (406) 952-3021

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