Mel passed away November 8, 2018 in Olympia, Washington, just 10 months shy of turning 100. He was born September 22, 1919 in Mud Bay, Washington, the only son of Mike and Ruth (Austin) Lutch. His great grandfather, E.W. Austin, had come to the Washington territory and served as a corporal in the Army in 1855 in the Olympia area.
Mel’s grandparents had a great influence on his early years growing up on their farm. His chores included getting up in the morning and starting the oatmeal on the cook stove, then herding the cattle into the barn. He also helped take care of his Aunt Sadie, who was a paraplegic as a result of an accident.
His grandparents rehabbed injured and orphaned animals. At one time, Mel had a pet fawn named Buck. When Buck got older, he knocked Mel to the ground and stood atop him. Grandma Austin came running with a broom and chased Buck off.
In 1937, Mel enlisted in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in 1940. After a couple weeks back as a civilian, Mel re-enlisted in the Navy. On December 7, 1941, Mel was in Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Thornton. He continued to serve in the Pacific during WWII. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Chief Water Tender in 1946.
After returning to Olympia, he married Judy Swanson, and they had a son and daughter. He built their house and found employment as a mechanic at The Olympia Brewery.
Mel was an outdoorsman and enjoyed fishing, hunting, clamming, and working around the farm.
In 1982, his wife passed away after an illness. After a time of much heartache, Mel married Merna and enjoyed many years of life’s good times and traveling.
Mel was a special man. He was kind, generous, thoughtful, and a true gentleman.