Lewis Melson, Captain, USN (ret.), passed away peacefully on June 1, 2014.

Lewis Byron Melson was born on March 1, 1914, in Salem to Roy and Etta Melson. He lived on the family farm in Keizer from 1926 to 1941.

He attended Salem High School and Oregon State University, worked for the Oregon State Highway Commission, then joined the Navy and was called to active duty in 1941. He was stationed in Charleston, S.C. where he met his wife Katherine, a WAVE from Georgia. They lived and traveled all over the world; he was commanding officer of the Naval Ship Repair Facility on Guam in the early 1960s, then worked at the Office of Naval Research in Washington, D.C. where he initiated the project that became the SEALAB program. He worked with Capt. George Bond, astronaut and diver Scott Carpenter, Jacques Cousteau, and ALVIN, the deep ocean submersible, among others. In 1966 he was the technical advisor to a task force to aid in the recovery of four hydrogen bombs lost near Palomares, Spain.

He retired from the military in 1968, then took a job as an engineering consultant for the Navy; he was sent to Frankfurt, and later Munich, Germany.

In 1975 he retired again and bought a house in Annapolis, Md., in Pendennis Mount. He began extensive work on the family genealogy and published a book, The Melson Family in America.

He also taught engineering at the Navy Academy part-time.


He is survived by his daughter: Mary London, and her husband, Arthur; his sister: Evelyn Melson Franz of Keizer; grandchildren: Josh Adkins, Katie and Steve London of Towson, Md., Chris Melson and wife, Jaqueline of Reno, Nev., Matt and Ellie Parsons and son-in-law Jim Parsons of Crofton, Md.; five great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews including Genese Mullin (Mike) of Otter Rock, Allan Franz (Marge) of Salem, Theresa P. Henry (Tom) of Roseberg, Steve Hill (Marilyn) of Lexington, Mass. and Sharon Boyle (Glen) of Provo, Utah. 

His wife Katherine died in 1996, his brother David in 2002, his sister Ruth in 1992, son Lew in 1981 and daughter Peggy Parsons in 1998.

Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be sent to the Keizer Heritage Center, PO Box 20845, Keizer, OR, 97307, or Friends of Pioneer Cemetery, PO Box 2305, Salem, OR, 97308.