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                          Melvin Herman Eschenbaum

Age 10 -12 yrs - circa 1927

Melvin was born Nov. 16th, 1916 on his parent's farm southwest of Faulkton, SD. 
He grew up  doing farm work till his first marriage in September of 1946 in Faulkton. 
He married Mary G. Bauhs, whose parents were Adam and Odelia (Tillie) Bauhs and
owned a farm 4 miles east of Faulkton.  They had 4 children from that marriage. 

John, Jane, Judy
and Jeffrey.

Dad would always tell me that the only good thing about the "good ole" days was that
he was young.  He would speak of the hard work all of them did on the farm and how poor
they were.  He and his brother Kenny had the top floor as their bedroom.  The roof was not
very solid as they could see the stars through the ceiling.  In the mornings on winter days there
would be a soft covering of snow on their bed.  That seems unbelievable today.  He and Kenny
would sleep spooning each other through the night during the winters even with the
heavy comforters.  When one would get hot or tired of laying in one position they would motion
and together flip!  In the mornings the boys had the job of stoking the space heater in the living
room for the rest of the family.  Dad said he hated it when it was his turn as the water in their bedroom's
wash pan would be froze over.  Putting on cold clothes or sometimes the clothes would be in the bed
throughout the night to keep them warm. 
He said he got to be a pretty good shot with the rifle. 
Sometimes for food they actually hunted whatever would come by.......rabbits, pheasants, various animals. 
He & Ken would lie in a haystack all night waiting for a rabbit to enter their sights. 

His marriage to my mother, Mary was an idealist one in their kids eyes.  I have asked my own
siblings and neither of us can remember a time when we heard our parents argue.  Many a
time I would witness affection between them.  I can still remember being in the kitchen watching
Mom cooking evening supper.  Dad came in from work and she was standing by the stove stirring
a pot.  Dad came behind her and gave her a big hug, nibbled on her neck.  She would blush and
smile at him but became embarrassed because their son was watching them.  Dad would just laugh.
I could tell that my parent's were very much in love even after having 4 kids!

In 1969, Mary died from a blood disease suddenly.  She was 2 weeks shy of her 41'st
birthday.  Mary is buried in the Faulkton Cemetery in the William & Ida Eschenbaum
burial plots.  (Click on her webpage link above for more of her life)

Melvin worked on his farm until moving into Faulkton in 1952. He had various positions
working at his wife's uncles implement shop, farmhand for Ed Thelen, mechanic at Bus's
Standard Gas Station, maintenance at Faulkton Memorial Hospital, plumber and finally
janitor at Winner Grade School in Winner, SD.  Melvin was always industrious doing odd
jobs from shingling, installing furnaces, repairing small appliances to remodeling his own
home.  He loved working in his yard, even while a young man.  He had a great lawn and
made his own designs for his yard. 

Melvin was fortunate to have met Clara Backman in Faulkton.  Clara was the X-ray technologist
and laboratory technologist at Faulkton Memorial Hospital.  They were married in
February of 1970 and enjoyed a loving and fulfilling marriage lasting for 35 years until
Melvin's death 2 April, 2005.  He is buried by his first wife, Mary Geneva in the
Faulkton Cemetery also next to his baby
brother, Relland. 

                        ( Music is a Norwegian tune called "Galopp." )

John has remained single and is a retired commander from the US Navy Reserves.  He is now semi-retired in his civilian life, working as a  certified registered nurse anesthetist.  John lives out of country during the winters, now in Thailand. 

Jane was married to William Burdick and they had 3 children.  Tom, Kent and Janelle.
Jane and Bill divorced and Jane is now married to Lee Heying, living in Winner, SD. with 4 step-children. They have an extermination business.

Judy married James Bush from Arkansas.  They met while Judy was in the Army.  Judy and Jim have 3 children, Nicole, James and Angela.  Judy works as a supervisor for a fast food franchise called "Lotta Burger"  located in Tulsa, Okla. 

Jeff  married Gert Hambright and have two daughters, Tasha and Cassandra.  Jeff lived in Mitchell, SD after he and Gert divorced.  Jeff went to school after his army time and worked at various positions in Tulsa as a welder.   He  now worked as a finishing carpenter in Mitchell for UBC (United Building Center).  Jeff's daughters live in Tulsa, Okla. Jeff died on 23 May of 2010.

Nancy, step-daughter now lives in Casa Grande, Arizona.  She works as an RN at the local hospital in Casa Grande,  Arizona.  Nancy has 3 sons, Nathan, Todd & Matthew.   Nathan died from a car accident  in his early 20’s. 


Clara & Melvin

Check out Mel's Scattered Photos

During Melvin's retirement years he tending to his yard complete with flowers and fountains. 
He and Clara did a lot of traveling in their RV going into Canada and throughout the USA. 
Melvin enjoyed watching sports and animal shows on television.  His favorite soap opera was
The Young and the Restless.
  He would laugh at the storylines, but always wanted to watch.    

                                                 Clara & Melvin circa 1998


Dad loved gardening.  He had a house full of plants of all kinds.   Stumped for a gift, he always loved plants of any kind.  He had a green thumb.  My sister would take plants over for him to doctor.  This photo was taken with an Azalea plant I gave him one time.  It grew so large he had to cut it back. 

This photo was taken in January of 1996








                       Melvin & Clara at their grand-daughter, Janelle Burdick's wedding in 2003

      Melvin Herman Eschenbaum eulogy given 5 April,  2005  Winner, South Dakota

                                   By son, John Melvin Eschenbaum


I tend to be a little bit emotional, my sister and I kinda laugh,  we can start crying over a TV
program.  Hopefully I can get through this without losing the moment.  When I first heard about
my father’s death, emotions came, memories shooted through my mind like strobe lights.  I
wanted to say some words for my father out of the great love and respect I had for him.

He and I did not always agree on things.   My family can attest to that, we had some pretty strong
arguments on occasion.  Sometimes I stormed out of the house, sometimes I  just went down to
the basement.  Clara was always there to even things out for us.  But in the end we would agreed
to disagree. And he would occasionally say, "John lets just quit it because we are not going to
convince each other."  So we would just quit it.

My father was not an educated man.  Like many of his generation he attended an 8th grade school
and then worked on the farm. But my father was a very intellectual man.  He certainly had an
opinion on everything as many of you probably remember.  But he always seemed to think things
through and he would listen.  And he  would debate and talk, until either tempers flared or we
agreed with each other.  He showed all of us, his children how to live honorably and respectfully. 
He showed us what it was like to be a man, to be a father , to be a companion, to be a husband,
someone to respect.   He worked hard all of his life, from the time that  he was a child on the farm
working on his parent’s farm, till he got his own farm, and he didn’t make it on the farm.  I remember
as a child believe it or not.  I don’t know how old, 4 , 5,  glimpses, there was the famous blizzard of 52
or 51.  My father had a farm next to his parent’s west of Faulkton.  And we were snowed in and we
had to  get a plane to drop food.  My mother said that was it and was not going to spend another
winter out on the farm. And she was moving to town whether Dad wanted to come or not.  So, they
decided to sell the farm and move to town.  And that is when we began the town life in Faulkton in 1952,. 
My father worked for my mother’s  uncle ( Victor Bauhs) at the implement shop.  From there he worked various jobs at Ed Thelen’s, Bus Yerdon’s gas station, Faulkton Hospital. He took correspondence courses
on how to fix small appliances to make ends meet.  I remember tearing down an old house for lumber so we
could put an addition on the home.  And he remodeled the house.  He use to say he was a “jack of all
trades but master of none,”  and he could do anything you could think of. 

 My father married late in life.  He was almost 30.  The joke in the family I am told is that my
grandmother, Ida threatened to make him a wedding cake on his 30
th birthday whether he was
married or not.  And he got married about a month before his 30
th birthday.  My father did have
bad luck in his life, no different then any of us here.  The best luck he had was the love of 3 women
in his life.  His mother, my first mother Mary, and my second mother, Clara. 

Some of us are not even lucky  to find one person to share their life with.  My father was lucky to
have had two wonderful people.  And none of us can be critical of that.  I remember him working
12-16 hour shifts when I was in grade school and high school.  My sisters use to think that he never
slept because he was gone when they woke up and they were in bed when he came home. 

One of the interesting stories that my father told me was, and I did not know this, that my own
grandfather, my Dad’s father did not really believe that Dad was his first son.  And we had talked
about that for years.  My grandfather ended up with Leukemia and out of the whole family my
father was the only one who had the right blood combinations to give him, for blood transfusions
back in 56 when medicine was very basic.  My father then said to my grandfather “now do you
believe that I am your son.”  I could never understand why, because my father looked so much like
his own father.  And my Uncle  Kenny and  Dad were like twins.  They were only 11 months apart,
they grew up as twins.  They were best friends all their lives.  (I need to pinch myself here)  In fact
after Kenny died my father said that was one of the worse losses of his life, he missed him a lot. 

This week, Pope John II died.  I find it interesting that my father died the same day just a few hours
before.  And as one of the members last night mentioned knowing my father, he probably won’t 
let the Pope butt in line on the way to the pearly gates.  My father may not have the same number
of mourners as the Pope has, nor the same amount of allocates that the Pope is receiving.  However
that does not diminish in any way the importance of my father’s life or anyone else’s for that matter.
Especially for those who loved him and knew him and liked him.  We as a family are blessed to
have had Dad’s presence for so long.  He lived to be 88 years old and how many of us would love
to have a healthy life, a long life, the love of family, the love of wife, ability to travel, to be able
to  laugh and enjoy the fruits of life. 

I use to joke that he had the lives of a cat cause he escaped death so many times over the last
10-15 years.  About 10 years ago we thought for sure we were going to lose him but he rallied and
came back.  I suggested to him that perhaps he’ll live as long as his mother who attained the year
of 92 with her 100% Norwegian blood and I said perhaps the 25% (wrong…50%) Norwegian blood
that Dad has would overpower the German blood of 75%.  (Wrong…50%)  At that point Dad was
the longest living Eschenbaum that we knew.  He would smile that smile of his and say “perhaps.” 
If any of you have  had a joke with him or talked with him you probably remember that little
smirk he use to give when he listened to you.  You never knew if he agreed with you or not and
was just going along with you. 

The last year of my Dad’s life was kinda tough.  He had emphysema real bad, his congestive heart
failure was catching up on him.  Thankfully for Clara we were able to keep him till this moment. 
Clara was his angel.   She saved his life more times then I can count.  She was always there for him,
she watched over him, she cared for him and she loved him.  What more can any man want.  

For most of us, our days will go on.  I will go back and to do my traveling, my sister Judy will go
back to Tulsa with her family, Jeff will go back to Mitchell and do his traveling, and Nancy will go
back to Arizona.  The two people who will miss him the most will be Clara, who was by his side
almost everyday of their  35 years of marriage, my sister Jane who has lived in the same town as 
my father all her life.  And she was able to drop in at any time for chats, a question, help, support
and now it will be just Clara and Jane. 

Clara was a partner to Dad, a companion and they admired each other.  Their lives together made
each of their children happy.  Content and proud of their relationship.  And as Nancy said “for that
we are all grateful.” 

My father is a success.  He demonstrated an honorable life, dying with his reputation intact, he
raised children, all of whom are productive citizens of country and life.  He was kind to his
neighbors and kind to strangers.  He had friends, several who are out and about many who are
here and many who have passed on.  My father had a wonderful full life, basically healthy, he
had no pain, he had the strength of body to enjoy his life, he was able to live to the age of 88 with
all these achievements.  He died on his own terms, in his own house, on his own bed with the
woman that he loved sitting beside him holding him up until it was over.  How can anyone be
depressed about that?

I thank all of you for coming, I thank you for your honor, your respect for a fellow person, a
friend, a family member.  I pray that I too have the grace to live my life such as my father and
have the grace to die as peaceful and honorable as my father did.


The sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality.

Lord , for your faithful people life has changed not ended.

When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death

We gain the everlasting dwelling in heaven.