Melvin passed away peacefully at his home in the Canterbury Inn at the age of 98.
He was born in St. Helens, Ore., to Henry and Alma Cripe and attended elementary schools in St. Helens. He moved to Longview in 1933 and graduated from R.A. Long High School in 1937. He married Betty Ann Letson March 4, 1938, and they were married 67 years.
Melvin worked at various jobs, including at the Hotel Monticello for several years. He retired from Lower Columbia College on June 1, 1984, after 25 years of service. In their earlier years, Mel and Betty enjoyed square dancing with R-Square-D square dance club. Melvin was well-liked by family, friends and co-workers, and always had a smile for everyone. He had a special love for music, especially from the “Big Band” era and was a talented piano player. Melvin played in several dance combos at local clubs and eventually formed his own groups.
In retirement he played background music for banquets at the large hotels in Hawaii. Melvin and Betty Ann owned and enjoyed a condominium on Mauri for 15 years, spending three to six months living there each year. They enjoyed cruises in the Caribbean. A month-long trip to Europe and the United Kingdom in 1972 was something they talked about for many years. Melvin and Betty Ann always enjoyed functions with family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Ann; his parents; two brothers, Allen and Don Cripe; three sisters, Bernice Rautio, Charlotte Lannigan, and Albertine Cochran; and a great-grandson, Ben Cripe.
Melvin is survived by a son, Jerry Cripe (Karen) of Longview; two daughters, Janet Backman of Seattle and Nancy Lewis (Larry) of Kelso; an adoptive daughter and son-in-law, Yvonne and Mel Artita; 10 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; 12 great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Aug. 12 at Steele Chapel at Longview Memorial Park.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Home Health & Hospice.