Melvin Cummins

Obituary of Melvin Boyd Cummins

On March 4, 84-year-old Melvin Boyd Cummins, Lieutenant Commander U.S. Navy retired, died from congestive heart failure at his home in Olympia, Washington. Per his wishes, he will be cremated and have a burial at sea from either a Navy or Coast Guard vessel. Mr. Cummins is a former 25-year resident of Anacortes, Washington. After a debilitating stroke in 1999, complicated by Parkinson’s Disease, he and his wife moved to Olympia in 2001 to be near his son, Eric, and greater medical care. Boyd had many professional caregivers including Stephanie Harvey who was devoted to him during his final days. He is survived by his wife, Mary Jayne Cummins of Olympia, and two sons, Clinton Arnold Cummins of Fresno, California, and Eric Boyd Cummins of Olympia. Other survivors include cousins, Allie Maedell Hedges and Betty Decker of Woodward, Oklahoma; a niece, Valerie Martinez of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and a sister-in-law Shirley Cummins of Alameda, California, and her children, Susan, Cathy, and Christopher. Born in Speermoore, Oklahoma on January 21, 1921, Mr. Cummins’s parents were Fuller Ray and Hazel Bernice Cummins of Woodward, Oklahoma. His paternal grandparents were Christopher Columbus (“C. C.” or “John”) and Lutitia (“Grace”) Cummins, homesteaders of Cedar Canyon, Stockholm, Oklahoma. His maternal grandparents were Samuel Harvey and Mary Jane Bartow of Speermoore and Laverne, Oklahoma, members of the Laverne Baptist Church. After graduating in 1939 from Alva High School in Alva, Oklahoma, Mr. Cummins worked on a land survey crew with the Civilian Conservation Corps in eastern Oklahoma. In the fall of 1940, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He had a distinguished thirty-year naval career in which he advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. During this time, he served through World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War and was awarded several medals and decorations including the Air Medal and Navy Commendation Medal. He was a flight crew member on a PBY Catalina seaplane in the Hawaiian Islands in 1941, a survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and, in the European-African war zone, a flight crew member on a PBY patrol aircraft that sunk a German submarine in the Strait of Gibraltar in 1944. As Avionics Officer and Electronics Counter Measures Officer with the Attack Carrier Air Wing 15 aboard the U.S.S. Coral Sea, he served during some of the heaviest air strikes over Vietnam. Prior to retirement, he was assigned to the Admiral’s Staff Commander Fleet Air at Naval Air Station Alameda, California. Mr. Cummins graduated from Fresno Community College and California State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban-Regional Planning. In 1976, he and his wife moved from California to Washington. He called himself “a Son of the Great Plains” and “a conservationist” whose goal was to preserve the environment, wildlife, and the integrity of small communities by controlling growth. He enjoyed taking longs walks and writing non-fiction and fiction stories as well as poetry. Mr. Cummins was a member of A.F. & A.M. Siloam Masonic Lodge No. 276 of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the Retired Officers Association, and the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
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