Melvin Frank Tielens, 94, passed from this life on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at the Charleston House, Beaver Dam.
Melvin was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin on March 25, 1923. His parents, John and Anne, raised him on a farm where he developed a green thumb which he used for many years in his home garden.
Melvin met his future wife while he was with his brother, who was visiting his girlfriend in Waupun. The outcome was two brothers marrying two best friends. On September 30, 1943, Melvin married his soulmate, Florence Schulz, at Ingolls First Community Church in Garden City, Kansas.
Melvin joined the Army Air Corps in 1942. After basic training, he attended Oklahoma East Central College where he received an associate degree, which was required prior to flight school. During college and flight school, Melvin’s roommate and football teammate was Tom Landry with whom he maintained a friendship for many years following the war. Melvin was a B-24 bomber pilot stationed in Foggia, Italy. He flew 35 missions over Germany and Austria, bringing his crew of 10 back to base safely every time. He received multiple Distinguished Unit Citations and the Air Medal for heroism and meritorious achievement. Melvin refused a Purple Heart because he was “just doing my job”. Whenever anyone thanked Melvin for being a bomber pilot, he would downplay his service by saying, “I was nothing but a semi driver. It just happened to have wings”.
Melvin played semi-professional football in the Appleton area. Melvin and his brothers were life-time Green Bay Packer fans and would sneak into games when they were young. For many years Melvin would bet against the Packers with a local butcher. By doing that he was happy either way – a Packer victory or free meat from the butcher. Melvin started working for Standard Oil (Amoco/BP) in 1946 as a district representative. He remained with the company until his retirement in 1983.
Melvin believed in service to the community. He served as president of the First Lutheran Church and the local Exchange Club. Additionally, he was a Cub Scout leader and active member of Free & Associated Masons, Zor Shriners, Toastmaster, Elks and the American Legion. In his free time, he was an avid golfer and loved playing at Old Hickory Golf Club, where he was a member for more than 50 years.
His proudest accomplishment was his family. He was devoted and loving to his family. He is survived by his three children; Marcia (Loren) Bretl of Fort Atkinson, Barbara (Glen) Link of Beaver Dam, and Craig (Susan Jensen) of Dellwood, MN. He is also survived by five grandchildren, Ryan (Courtney) Bretl of Richmond, VA, Michael (Lauren) Bretl of Rome, Kyle (Krista Engelhardt) Bretl of Weyauwega, Brett (Hanna) Link of Oakland, California and Jessica (Joe Reeve) Link of Madison. He is also survived by two great grandchildren, Wesson and Nora Bretl; as well as a brother, Lyle (Diane) Tielens, and two sisters, Shirley Rathke and Carolyn Joski.
He was preceded in death by his wife Florence in 1999, his parents; his in-laws Hattie and Albert Schulz; brother, William Tielens; brother in-laws, Orville Schulz, Ken Rathke and Wayne Joski; sister in-laws, Anita Schulz and Audrey Tielens; and special friend, Caroline Schultz.
Melvin was loved by his family and will be greatly missed. His kindness and passionate intellect will be missed by all who had the pleasure to cross his path. A true gentleman, he would always say “thank you” and would always hold the door and insist a lady go before him.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that a donation be made in Melvin’s name to the Badger Honor Flight or Dodge County Historical Society.
Heartfelt thanks go out to Charleston House staff and Generations Hospice Care.
A Masonic service will be held at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1209 W. Circle Drive, Beaver Dam. Visitation for Melvin will be from 9:45 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at the church. A funeral service for Melvin will begin at 11:30 a.m. with Pastor Bryan Lagerstam officiating. Interment will follow at Forest Mound Cemetery in Waupun with graveside military honors conducted by the Beaver Dam American Legion Post 146.
The Koepsell-Murray Funeral Home in Beaver Dam is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at www.koepsellfh.com.