Melvin Nathan Kithcart
Melvin Nathan Kithcart, 88, owner/operator of Kithcart Orchards was born Nov. 16,1923, in Rich Hill, to Nathan Melvin Kithcart and Ruby Grace Briscoe Kithcart.
After graduating from Rich Hill Bryant High School in 1941, Melvin joined the Army. He saw the Battle of the Bulge and was within 400 yards when the Americans first crossed the Rhine. He also fought in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest. After the fighting stopped in Europe, Melvin was a guard at the Nuremberg War Trials. He personally, guarded Herman Goering, leader of the Nazi Luftwaffe.
On his 23rd birthday in 1946, Melvin married Mary Lou Sherman from Butler. Their first business was an Army/Navy Surplus store which later became a men's work clothing store.
Melvin began the next and most enduring work venture of his life by planting fruit trees on his parent's property in 1951. In 1968, U.S. - 71 became four lanes and took most of the orchard. After moving the house and buildings, a new 600 tree orchard was planted. Before the new trees produced, Melvin began driving a school bus. He also tried his hand in many other jobs to make ends meet. This lasted 20 years.
In 1970, Melvin and Mary moved to the farm and began selling fruit. As the years passed, the business was expanded to include nuts, candies, yard ornaments, souvenirs and anything else Mary could find at the "getting place". Son Jim and grandson Richard joined the business in 1996. Melvin enjoyed working with his family, never . missed an opportunity to share a smile or give a word of hard-gained knowledge.
Melvin passed away Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, at Willow Lane, Butler, in his last days Melvin was cared for by the staffs of Heartland Hospice and Heartland of Willow Lane. He was preceded in death by son, Jim, in 2006.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years Mary; daughters Sharon Tourtillott and husband Leonard, Rich Hill, Donna Zeller and husband Gregg, Springfield and daughter-in-law Carol Kithcart, Raytown; grandchildren, Jeff and Misty Tourtillott, Jimmy and Lindsey Kithcart, Richard Kithcart, Luke and Kiley Tourtillott all of Rich Hill, Nicholas Zeller, Elizabeth Zeller, Springfield, Kim and Curtis Wilkie, Kansas City andTonia and Brantley Highers, Raytown; great-grandchildren Morgan, Ashlyn and Nate Kithcart, Andrew Kithcart, Stachia and Jenavieve Tourtillott, Conner and Kyle Wilkie and Mischka and Brantley Highers and a host of friends from around the country.
Funeral services were held Jan. 30, at Heuser Funeral Home with interment and Military rites at Greenlawn Cemetery by American Legion Post #67. Donations to Heartland Hospice may be made through Heuser Funeral Home.