Melford Eugene Arrotta
Melford Eugene Arrotta, 97, passed away peacefully on December 29, 2023. He was born to Antonio and Lillian Arrotta on February 18, 1926, in Bainville, Montana. His father was a section crew foreman for the Great Northern Railroad and in Melford’s early years, the family lived in Culbertson and Saco. They moved to Tampico when Melford was in grade school and he graduated from Glasgow High School in the class of 1944.
Melford served in the Navy in Texas on a team that operated the first-generation ENIAC computer, a predecessor to IBM’s punch card computers, which filled a large room and cost $400,000. Upon his honorable discharge, he returned to Glasgow and went to work on the Etchart Ranch where he had spent much time working with his classmate, Leonard Etchart, through his formative years.
He and Lenny taught each other to be extraordinary mechanics, able to fix anything on the ranch… and always making it better. Mel mastered the large lathe in the Etchart shop which the Great Northern had left behind in the 1890s. He could “machine” most any part he needed. Mel and Lenny were creative and skilled enough to engineer and build a fully automated silage feed truck, one which would allow the single operator to load the box with silage and deliver the feed to the bunk without ever getting out of the cab. Their design received a U.S. patent for the “Hydraulic Loading and Handling Means for Trucks” in 1951.
Melford was an accomplished stock man, a serious student of irrigated farming and an incredibly good teacher. He was the foreman on the Etchart Ranch for more than twenty-five years before taking a mechanic’s position with Tumpane at the former Glasgow Air Force Base. After two years at Tumpane, Melford wanted to get back on the ranch. He took the foreman position for Gene Etchart’s Hinsdale Livestock Company, where he remained until his retirement.
Melford was proud of being a Christian, a good citizen, and civic-minded, often contributing time and resources to many causes. He served on the Board of Directors for The Cottonwood Inn for several years, visualizing and implementing many solutions that wouldn’t typically come out of a Board Room.
Melford was generous. He was willing to give his “hands on” help when friends or neighbors sought his assistance. If Melford fixed it, it was likely with fabricated parts which were apt to never break again. His handyman skills benefitted many throughout his life.
Melford was a wonderful friend to many. He felt like family to the Etcharts and several of his neighbors. He was completely content, with his main regret being that he didn’t get to visit his parents’ childhood home in Sicily with them. They are together again. We will miss Melford, the sight of his brown pickup cruising around town and especially his friendship… but we will always revel in the memories of the very special man that he was.
Melford was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, John. At his request he has been cremated and will join his parents in the Grandview Cemetery in Saco, Montana. A memorial service for Melford will be held at a later date. Condolences may be left at bellmortuarymontana.com.
Were Melford able to communicate from beyond, he would say, as he often did, “It’s a great life.” Then he would say a special Thank You to Danielle Anderson for her faithful attention allowing him to live independently nearly to the end.