ALVIN — Melvin W. Schriefer, 92, died Saturday (May 22, 2021) at Autumn Fields Adult Community, Savoy.
A visitation on Thursday, June 10, from 3 to 5 p.m. will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Danville, and a memorial service to honor his life and legacy will follow at 5 p.m. with Pastor Callahan officiating.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Happy and Olive Schriefer; four sisters, Mardell (Nick) Regas, Dorothy Crawford, Louella (Ray) Duchene and Olive Rae Talkington; two brothers, Don and Harold Schriefer; his son, Melvin Jr.; and great-grandson, Blayne Worthy.
He is survived by three sons, Jack, Jeff (Paulette) and Eric (Tina) Schriefer; three daughters, Bobbi (Tony) Dodd, Elizabeth (Jeff) Schleef and Mary Beth (John) Jacobson; 11 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; his brother, Gordon (Judy) Schriefer; sisters-in-law, Susan Schriefer and Amelia Hackl Schriefer; brother-in-law, Bill Talkington; and longtime companion, Sunja Yu.
Mel was born in Danforth. Along with cultivating a well-maintained garden, keeping chickens for eggs and a cow for milk, he and his brothers often hunted and fished to help feed the family during the Great Depression. He started his education in a one-room schoolhouse at Legettville Elementary (near Chebanse). He attended Herscher High School, where he exceled in both the classroom and in athletics (earning a total of 10 varsity letters in football, basketball and track).
In 1948, Mel enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was a star athlete on Army-organized basketball and fast-pitch softball teams before going off to fight in Korea. He returned home from combat and participated in the "Atomic Annie" nuclear warhead testing in the desert southwest, thus making him one of a select group of "Atomic Veterans" in U.S. military history. Upon completion of his military career, Mel had earned the Korean Service Medal, three Bronze Battle Stars, the United Nations Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Medal.
Mel then enjoyed a 36-year career working for the University of Illinois. He retired as the superintendent of Building Services in 1993. During his career, he oversaw hundreds of employees. One of his proudest career achievements was founding the Association of College and University Building Service Supervisors (ACUBSS), an organization dedicated to advancing the highest standards of professional management, modern methods and educational programs in the institutional custodial care industry. Today, ACUBSS has membership across the nation and includes members from colleges, universities, public schools, hospitals and various other vendors.
Mel was an avid distance runner, once completing the incredible task of running every road in Champaign County, an endeavor that took nearly three years to complete. After retirement, he bought a working farm in the town of Alvin, where he continued his passion for running and community service. As part of his efforts, the town of Alvin co-named a bridge after him (The Gaumer-Schriefer Bridge). Mel also traveled extensively — doing a 16-day running tour of Europe (which included running across the Red Square in Moscow). On a separate trip, Mel did a run on top of the Great Wall of China. He also competed in the Peoria Steamboat Classic 4 Mile Run for the event’s first 30 years (before transferring over to the 1-mile walk for the most recent 15 years). Mel was also an avid member of the Illini Striders. He served as the head curve inspector for two NCAA Track and Field Championship meets as well as one U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials meet.
Mel will be remembered most for his love of family and friends. He was one of those people who everyone genuinely liked and loved to be around. A phrase he preferred to use for special people in his life could most certainly be applied to him: Mel Schriefer was “a good one.”
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1930 N. Bowman Ave., Danville, IL 61832.