Melvin Earl Rector

December 14, 1926 - December 02, 2018

Melvin Rector

On Sunday December 2, 2018, Melvin Earl Rector passed away at the age of 91. Melvin was born in Jasper, Tennessee on December 14, 1926 to Earl Rector and Nellie Conway Rector.

He loved to tell stories of his experiences growing up with his cousin Rooster and the Rector clan on Sequatchie Mountain in Tennessee. Their hilarious antics provided us with many entertaining stories. At the age of 10 years the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama and then moved to Charleston, South Carolina at age 13. At age 14 he remembered in vivid detail a neighbor rushing thru the neighborhood reporting that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. He wanted to the join the United States Navy, but his father had served in the infantry during WWI and because of his experiences would not sign for him. In 1944 he joined the Merchant Marines. He escorted many Navy ships to the European war. Many ships were lost during those times, but he made it back and was in Times Square in New York City when every horn in the city started blaring the news of Victory. That was a sight and sound he never forgot.

Dad worked for one year on land at the steel mills in Birmingham, Alabama when his first daughter was born. But the call of the sea was in his heart and he returned to marine work. About 1950 he moved his family to Port Arthur Texas which was one of the busiest shipping ports in the country. Dad sailed for Texaco out of Port Arthur for many years and acquired second engineer status. Later he sailed with MEBA also out of Port Arthur until his retirement on January 1, 1991. The stories of his travels and experiences while traveling around the world were endless and vicariously took us to many exotic places. He brought back exciting gifts from around the world.   In 1953 he went to Japan and brought back gorgeous silk kimonos. In 1954 be brought back dresses from New York City. In 1964 he went to France and brought back bottles of Chanel No. 5, Joy, Christmas Night and other fragrances to his perfume addicted teenage daughter. On a trip to Brazil he returned with serving trays adorned with beautiful butterflies. On a trip to South Africa he returned with amazing pictures of exotic animals and an offer to purchase a wife from a Zulu chieftain (an offer he refused!). A fellow shipmate was an artist that painted a picture of his youngest daughter on silk. Many of these gifts we still treasure today.

After retiring from actual sailing, he still worked on the ships occasionally doing relief engineer work. After finally retiring from all ship work, he and Mom spent many happy times in North Alabama surrounded by Mom's large extended "Thornton" family. To all the many nieces and nephews, he was described as "the favorite uncle". He thought every person was important and valuable regardless of age, social standing or number of accomplishments. He never met a stranger. Brand new acquaintances immediately felt like they had always known him and would look forward to the next visit with much anticipation to hear about his many experiences and hilarious, fascinating stories.

He was married to the breathtakingly beautiful Helen Ruth Thornton on January 3, 1949. Their first child was daughter Brenda Darnell born on November 23, 1949. Their second child was daughter Marguerite born on February 27, 1955. They were married for 63 years until his beloved life's companion passed away on April 3, 2012. He stated that life would never be the same and missed her every day. When daddy wrapped his arms around mama and she looked up into his eyes it was obvious the love and care that was felt between them. That love lasted for 63 years. His one explicit request was to rest beside his beautiful wife and he will.

Our earliest memories revolved around Mama informing us of daddy's next arrival. The time in port was always much too short but we enjoyed and savored every second. He was the kind of father that would let his two daughters tag along on trips to the gas station or even the barber shop (always interesting) or to the lake to fish. It really didn't matter where he was going - we just wanted to tag along to be in his presence. And even more importantly, he wanted us with him.

Daddy was of good character and a faithful supporter of his family. At 6'2" with jet black hair and hazel green eyes he was the epitome of a handsome southern gentlemen. He never aged physically according to actual years lived. The last week of his life while checking into the hospital, the nurse asked his age and when he responded with 91, she was astonished. His daughter overheard her conversation at the nurse’s station relating that the 91-year-old man might have looked 70! This was a common experience everywhere he went, and he loved it!

Daddy was unique, original, one of a kind, a family treasure and an unforgettable man. We will miss him every day and treasure our memories more acutely than ever before. He has gone from our earthly presence but will never be forgotten. Those left behind to treasure those memories are his daughters, Brenda Hammer and Marguerite Usey. His grandchildren are Terry Jay Cook, Jr., Melissa Coleman, Jonathan Coleman, Leah Coleman, and Daniel Usey. His great grandchildren are Nathaniel Williams, Matthew Williams, Emerald Byrd and Joshua Coleman.

The family request no flowers but instead desire prayers for his loved ones at this time of great loss.

Comments (4)

  • Dennis and Sandy Keller

    09 December 2018 at 03:38 | #

    Such a beautiful and loving tribute. It is heart warming to read of a life well lived with much love. Our sincere sympathy to you Brenda and all your family. Love Dennis and Sandy


  • Reba Dawson

    08 December 2018 at 23:38 | #


    I never knew your dad, but I've heard the loving way you've spoke of him & I saw the love in your care for him. I know you will miss him..greatly. I will be praying for comfort for you and your sister.

    We love you
    Mike & Reba Dawson


  • Margaret Jones

    08 December 2018 at 23:28 | #

    My sincere sympathy to family. You have a great legacy with the memories of your Mother and Father. It was my pleasure to know both of them and they were truly precious people. Love and prayers for the family..
    Margaret Jones


  • Louis and Aline Broussard

    06 December 2018 at 22:52 | #

    This is the most moving and loving eulogy that honors a great husband, father and grandfather. You are in our thoughts and prayers for your loss. We know he will be missed
    by everyone who knew and loved him
    Our Deepest Sympathy,
    Louis and Aline


Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.