Commentary: Bert Case shares his thoughts on Frank Melton - - Jackson, MS

Jackson, MS 05/07/09

Commentary: Bert Case shares his thoughts on Frank Melton

By Bert Case - bio|email

I was asked this morning on the radio what I will remember most about Frank Melton, what is my favorite story about him. That was a real tough question for me because I have about a 26 year history with the man, who was once my boss and became a dear friend.

I finally answered it was Frank with young kids from the inner city that he would take to Texas for what he called summer camp. He would get kids out of the drug wars of Jackson and into the great outdoors, to camp out for the first time in their troubled lives.

Helping others was what Frank was all about, and he was the real thing. He did it every day and it was his priority to help others. He taught kids to swim every summer at the Farish Street YMCA.  Swimming had gotten him out of a bad neighborhood in Houston where he was raised. He became a champion swimmer and he wanted to teach that to youngsters who had never been in a swimming pool in their lives, what confidence that builds.

Nobody could beat him talking to kids in schools. He taught volunteerism, belief in self, and respect for others wherever he went. He always taught the importance of learning to speak the English language properly.

It's true he did some crazy things in his time, and his philosophy was often "ready, fire, aim," which was emblazoned on a sign he kept on his desk, but Frank wanted action immediately to improve this city and state. He couldn't stand bureaucracy, incompetence, and inaction by government.

He hated corruption and all the rumors about him being involved in it were not true. He was the straightest, most honest man I ever knew. He would give total strangers money to get something to eat. He would call up parents and tell them their kids were on the street. He wanted more than anything to see this city turned around and died frustrated that he personally had not been able to do that.

He never knew he lost the election, and thankfully now, Frank will not have to face the federal government in court, ever again. We won't soon find somebody who can replace him.

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