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Melvin John Ellwein

Melvin John Ellwein, 78, passed away peacefully at home on March 3, 2022, after a courageous battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mel was born on June 1, 1943, in Hayzen North Dakota, and was one of six children, born to Erhardt and Ida (Reinhardt) Ellwein. He was raised on the family farm north of Ryder North Dakota, where they raised various crops and cattle. Mel enjoyed trapping muskrat and selling the pelts. He attended a one-room schoolhouse as a kid and graduated from Ryder High School in 1961.

Mel joined the Navy and was stationed on the USS Helena in San Francisco, where he served 3 years. Upon leaving the Navy, he met Vivian Jean (Bovkoon) Ellwein and they were married in 1965. They made their home in Lincoln, California where Mel spent 2 years single-handedly constructing their home, from the ground up. Mel was a member of California’s Ironworkers Local 118, working on numerous highway bridges and buildings. In February 1977 they moved to the Lost River Valley in Mackay, where they bought a ranch. Mel continued his craft at Ironworker Local 732, working at the INL, the US Bank Building in Boise, and the I-205 bridge over the Columbia River. He later retired from Local 732 around 2003 and called farming and ranching his retirement job. In 2002, his wife, Vivian passed away unexpectedly. Mel returned to working at the INL for a short time. He met and married Linda Hestag and was often the cowboy model for her photography business. Later divorced, he met Debbie Brown and they were married in 2012. Debbie joined Mel on the ranch, and he enjoyed showing her the ranching lifestyle and going annually to the NFR in Vegas.

Melvin John EllweinMel’s passion was farming on his John Deere tractor or chasing cows on his favorite horse, Basco with his pack of border collies. When not farming, Mel enjoyed riding his Harley and often taking cross-country trips, with Debbie. Mel enjoyed hunting with his brother Arnie, tagging elk and deer often in the Lost River and Bitterroot range. In the winter, Mel enjoyed calving and often would tell stories about his ‘mommas’. Mel spent nearly 30 years running cattle in the Pass Creek Range and was the President of the Ramshorn Grazing Association for many years. His neighbors and friends could always rely on him to help out and fix anything, as he enjoyed solving problems. He lived a simple way of life and was admired by all for his work ethic, integrity, zest for making things, and his dry sense of humor.

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Vivian, sister Audrey Jacobsen – Stevick and brother-in-law Layne Jacobsen; brother Arnold Ellwein; step-grandson Trystan Stratton.

He is survived by his wife Debbie Ellwein, daughters Valerie Ellwein McKinley and Tracy Ellwein, grandchildren Nicole McKinley, John (Ashley) McKinley, and great-grandchild, Berkley McKinley. Step-children: Kyle Hestag, Jeff Bunch, Dustin Soper, Levi Soper, Deborah Hattersley, Addie Antonucci, and 16 grandchildren. Siblings Larry (Bernadine) Ellwein, Linda (Larry) Johansen, Bruce (Vicki) Ellwein, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Our family would like to express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all of you who have been so kind and helpful at this difficult time.

A Celebration of life will be held on May 28, 2022, at 1:00 pm at the Lazy E Ranch in Mackay Idaho.

Cremation services were cared for by the Anderson Family Funeral Home

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