The community is saying goodbye to Melvin Clark.
Melvin was born in 1946 and raised on the family farm near Namao. From an early age, Melvin was an active and involved community member with a passion for machinery. He grew up helping around the family farm, producing dairy and later switching to beef cattle.
As a young man, he was involved with the Sturgeon Valley Dairy Club, taking over as the leader as he got older. The Dairy Club would later disband, and as there became less interest in a strictly dairy organization, Melvin began a more inclusive 4-H Club open to young people involved in all disciplines.
"It worked great because you didn't have to have a farmyard to be involved in that Club. You could come from the city, you could come from an acreage, and everybody was welcome. Everybody was encouraged to participate and learn," said Craig Clark, Melvin's son.
"I can't even imagine how many youths' lives dad touched."
Melvin was a strong supporter of 4-H because he believed it gave people essential life skills, including public speaking and running meetings; he also enjoyed passing down knowledge to new generations, particularly when it came to machinery. Craig said it wasn't surprising that his dad would be inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame in 2009.
He touched the lives of many through his work in the 4-H Club, but he was also a bus driver for more than 40 years with the Sturgeon Public School Division.
According to his son, it was the perfect job for Melvin because the early start gave him time to work on the farm and another avenue to connect with local youth.
"He's driven multiple generations of people, you know, their families, and their kids, and their kids. He's just a busy guy, really, and loved people. He loved to visit, chat, and was always willing to help people out. He's going to be missed for sure."
One way the family now hopes to memorialize him is by putting one of his restored tractors in the Canadian Tractor Museum in Westlock. An avid collector, Melvin at one point had 75 tractors on his property, ranging in ages and styles.
"He loved tractors. He founded a tractor club and was part of it and was involved. Dad always said if you want to do something, do it, and he kind of raised us with that philosophy."
In 2019, Melvin made the difficult decision to auction off many of his prized possessions. Although the highly social man initially disliked the process, he quickly came to enjoy it because it brought many people together and gave him the chance to chat tractors with others.
When Melvin moved to Fort Saskatchewan, Craig worried that city life would be too much for him, but the community turned out to be just right.
"He knew all of the neighbours in their cul-de-sac and was willing to go over and help them and have them help him. It was great," Craig continued. "The neighbours were so wonderful, which I think is a testament to what the Fort is as well."
Melvin passed away this summer and leaves behind his three children, who all remain in the local area. Plans for a large celebration, which Melvin wanted, are in the works and will take place once the family meets and finalizes plans.