Melvin W. Sanford, 80, formerly of St. Jacques, Gladstone, and currently residing in Kingsford, passed away early Tuesday morning, November 19, 2019 in the Memory Care Unit at the DJ Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette, with his loving family by his side.
Melvin was born on October 7, 1939 in St. Clair, MI, the son of Wellington “Buster” (Iris) Sanford and Vernis (Melvin) Hardwick. Mel was raised in the St. Jacques/ Rapid River area, and graduated from Rapid River High School in 1957. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1957 to 1959. On August 5 of 1961, Mel married his sweetheart, Delores LaFave, and together they resided in Gladstone for 37 years where they raised their family. After his honorable discharge from the military, Mel worked as a truck driver, woods worker, at Harnischfeger, and then Mead Paper where he was employed for 33 years, retiring as superintendent of the RMP mill. Along with his work, Mel always found time to help friends, neighbors and family with projects or work bees.
Mel loved the outdoors and had countless hobbies, such as making maple syrup, fishing, gardening, cutting wood, and in his younger days even played in a band called the Country Rhythm Boys. He was a fan of the Detroit Lions, Tigers and Pistons. In the winter months he loved to work through some of the most challenging of jigsaw puzzles. He also was very passionate about hunting and trapping, and deer season was his favorite time of year at camp. In retirement, Mel and Dee enjoyed traveling to Biloxi, Gulf Shores and Florida with their golfing friends, and also enjoyed an Alaskan Cruise. Melvin was an avid golfer and was a member at the Gladstone Golf Course. He and Dee regularly attended All Saints Catholic Church while in Gladstone along with American Martyrs in Kingsford when they relocated there. Above all else, Mel cherished time with his family, especially his “sugar bears” (his special name for grandchildren).
Along with his wife, Delores (LaFave) Sanford, Mel is survived by his sons Wayne Sanford of Bark River, and his children Jason and Amanda and Carl (Lori Stewart) Sanford of Munising,and his children Allie and Carly, Jim Sanford of Kingsford, and his daughter Brooke, and daughter Brenda (Andy) Wiltzius of Kingsford and their children Molly, Maria and Mitchell. Along with one great granddaughter Rosemary Ross. He is also survived by brothers Aaron and Gary, sister Bonnie, half-brothers Darrel and Dennis (Crystal) Hardwick, half-sister Connie Fitch along with many special nieces, nephews, cousins and brothers and sisters-in-law.
Melvin is preceded in death by his parents, “Buster” (Iris) Sanford and Vernis (Melvin) Hardwick, as well as his granddaughter Marla Wiltzius.
A special thanks to the staff at the VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for their kind care when Mel was there leading up to his transfer to Jacobetti. To all the kind and compassionate nurses and staff in the Jacobetti Memory Care Unit who looked after him like he was their own father, Melvin’s family is eternally grateful to you for your hard work and dedication.
The Sanford family will receive friends on Monday, November 25th from 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM at the Skradski Funeral Home in Gladstone. There will be military honors presented by the Gladstone American Legion at 4:00 PM with family sharing to follow. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 5:00 PM at All Saints Catholic Church with Rev. Fr. Jamie Ziminski officiating. A luncheon will follow in the parish hall. Melvin will be laid to rest in the Spalding Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the The DJ Jacobetti Home for Veterans Memory Care Unit.