Thaete, Melvin Eugene
April 24, 2021, age 79
WENDELL—Melvin E. Thaete, a loving husband, supportive brother, proud father, playful grandfather and great-grandfather, and generous friend to many found everlasting peace on Saturday, April 24, 2021. Mel and his treasured wife, Debbie, were traveling north to Idaho to celebrate his 80th birthday when he passed peacefully during their stop in Ely, Nevada. Mel’s giant heart and kind spirit were a blessing to all who knew him.
Mel was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, alongside his twin sister, Melva. They were number three and four of Oscar and Lucila’s five children, with their older brothers, Frederick and Kenneth, and younger sister, Mary, rounding out the mix. The family lived in the small town of Hansen before moving to Wendell in 1957. Always an athlete and hard-working farm boy, he graduated from Wendell High School in 1959. Mel then served in the Idaho National Guard before returning to the family farm. Before long, he found his forever love with Miss Debbie Eklund, and the two were married in 1963, just a week after Debbie graduated from Gooding High School. Mel and Debbie started a family soon after that, beginning with their son, Todd, and followed by their two daughters, Taren and Tawnia.
In 1966, Mel began working at the Wendell OK Tire Store, and he became the guy that virtually everyone turned to throughout the valley for their tire and service needs. A natural leader, he was always active in the community, serving with the American Legion, as a volunteer firefighter and assistant fire chief, as well as wearing many hats volunteering for and donating to Wendell High School events. Mel and Debbie were exceptionally proud parents and always seemed to have a leadership role related their kids’ school activities and sports organizations.
They were called to a new adventure in 1989, so they moved to the tiny Camas Prairie town of Fairfield to own and operate the “Hole in the Wall” bar. Mel quickly became the go-to tire man in the Fairfield area, too, as he operated “Uncle Mel’s Tires” out of his large home shop for many years to follow. They eventually sold the bar, and Mel went to work for the City of Fairfield for several years followed by working part-time with the Camas County Road & Bridge Department after his official retirement.
In pursuit of travel and much warmer weather, Mel and Debbie left Fairfield in their dream RV and landed in Florence, Arizona, in 2005. Wintering there and spending the summers mostly in Idaho, they enjoyed many years of traveling to see family and friends, taking fishing trips, and enjoying a few cruises. They bought a new home in Wendell in 2018 and still have their second home in Arizona.
Mel always had a way of making people feel welcome and special. Nothing was more important to him than his family and his friends. He was immensely proud of his children and their families, and every grandchild and great-grandchild will always remember grandpa’s laughter and rough tickles. His passion for hunting, fishing, barbecues, Boise State football games, and traveling paled in comparison to his genuine love for family, friends, and his precious wife, Debbie.
Mel is survived by his wife, Debbie Thaete; his son, Todd Thaete (Julie); his two daughters, Taren Nelson (Link) and Tawnia Liquin (Brian); his two sisters, Melva Burns (Jim) and Mary Murry (Roy); his seven grandchildren, Cody Thaete (Rachel), Cali Baily (Tyler), Carissa Rocha (Joey), Shelby Griffith (Josh), Madison Liquin, Payton Liquin, and Paige Liquin; and seven great-grandchildren. Mel was proceeded in death by his parents, Oscar Thaete and Lucila (Thaemert) Thaete-Erickson, and his two brothers, Frederick Thaete and Kenneth Thaete.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, 2021, at New Life Community Church in Wendell, Idaho, with Pastor William Carney officiating. Burial will be at the Wendell Cemetery following the service.
Family and friends are invited for a viewing at the church prior to the service beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Many family members will be “wearing plaid for Grandpa Mel,” and all are encouraged to do so also if so inclined.
Memorial contributions may be made to Christ Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 632, Coolidge, AZ 85128, or to Wendell High School, 850 E. Main Street, Wendell ID, 83355, c/o the Mel Thaete Concession Stand.
Funeral arrangements are under the care and direction of Demaray Funeral Service – Wendell Chapel.
Condolences, memories and photos can be shared with the family by following the obituary link at www.demarayfuneralservice.com.