Melvin George (Mel) Ostwald, 83, of Houston, TX and Minneapolis, MN died peacefully on June 18, 2016 in his home in Minneapolis after a long battle with lung cancer. Mel is survived by his wife Sharon (Mills) and their son and his wife, Jamel and Elizabeth Mindel Ostwald of Willimantic, CT. Their daughter, Tanya Kay preceded him in death in 2009. He is survived by one brother, Dale (Mae) Jensen. He was also preceded in death by his parents, 6 sisters, and 3 brothers.
Mel was born on September 28, 1932 in Madison, MN, the 10th of 11 children. Young Melvin Pederson, Jr. became a ward of the State of Minnesota in 1935 and was sent to the Lutheran Children’s Receiving Home in St Paul. During the next 7 years, he lived in orphanages, in foster homes, and at the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children in Owatonna. He found a new life and a new name on June 10, 1942 when he was adopted by George and Bertha Ostwald and became Melvin George Ostwald. Mel grew up in Lakefield, MN and graduated from Lakefield High School in 1951.
As a young man, he pursued a career in music, eventually receiving a BA degree in theater and music from the University of Minnesota. He sang with the Kansas City Lyric Theatre and the Minnesota Opera Company, and was a church soloist and choir member for many years His beautiful tenor voice and his love of music enriched the lives of his family and friends.
After spending time in Pittsburg and Fort Scott, KS and Kansas City, MO, Mel moved to Minneapolis, where he met his future wife, Sharon. They were united in marriage on October 8, 1966 at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN and lived for 26 years in Excelsior, MN. Mel was a devoted husband for almost 50 years, and a loving father to his 2 children, Jamel and Tanya, as well as an AFS host father to 3 exchange students, Vincent Forissier (France), Yukii Hashimoto (Japan), and Pieter Raus (Belgium).
Mel’s flair for the dramatic and his naturally gregarious nature helped him to excel in retail sales, where he won awards for best salesman at some of the finest men’s clothing stores in Minneapolis. Mel retired in 1994 when he and Sharon moved to Houston, TX where Sharon pursued her academic career. While in Texas Mel and Sharon developed a close relationship with Maribel Vela and Mel became an ‘adopted’ grandfather to Lesly, Luis, Maribel, and Martin Amaro and Angel Vela. Mel and Sharon have lived in Houston, TX for 22 years. Since Sharon’s retirement in 2012, they have split their time between Houston and Minneapolis.
Mel had a deep faith, which was a guiding principle in his life. He was baptized in 1935 into the Lutheran faith and confirmed at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Lakefield, MN in 1947. He has been a member of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston, TX since 1995, and served for several years as a Lay Eucharist Minister. During summers in Minnesota he held associate memberships at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior and Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
Mel loved good food, fine wine, classical music, story telling, fishing, writing, photography, and travel. He was an innate storyteller who related his broad experiences through humorous and often emotionally gripping short stories and poems. In 2015 Mel published a memoir of his life, “Railroad Tracks, Winding Paths, Home at Last” (Bookemon Press). He will be greatly missed by his family and by friends from around the world.
Mel’s funeral was held on June 29, 2016 at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and his ashes were scattered at sunset on June 30 at the foot of Father Baraga’s cross, which stands, on the rocks where the Cross River flows into Lake Superior. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be sent to the Tanya Kay Ostwald Memorial Scholarship for Nursing Sudents at The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston (6901 Bertner Ave, Houston, TX 77030) or an organization of the donor’s choice.