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Skip McMellen; ‘the glue’ that bonded friends, family

By Marvin Pave
Globe Correspondent / August 27, 2011

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Skiing the Alps, golfing, and sailing off Cape Cod, attending the annual Boston Pops holiday concert, and cooking his specialty - chicken parmesan - were always special moments for Edward J. “Skip’’ McMellen Jr. because he was in the company of friends and family.

As a teenage baseball player with the state finalist Medford Legion team, Mr. McMellen, later a star center fielder at Tufts University, would lead the postgame gathering to Buttrick’s ice cream parlor in Arlington.

“Skip was a doer, he was loyal, and he was always getting the boys together to have fun. He didn’t like to take no for an answer,’’ recalled Mr. McMellen’s Legion and college teammate Phil Shaw.

Both were members of the 1958 Tufts team coached by Bobby Meehan that won the Greater Boston League championship.

Mr. McMellen, who retired in 1996 as an executive with Direct Marketing Guaranty Trust of Nashua and was a former governor at Falmouth Yacht Club, died of cancer Aug. 12 in McCarthy Care Center in East Sandwich. Mr. McMellen, a resident of Falmouth and Palm City, Fla., in recent years, was 75.

“He was a people person, and they were drawn to him because they knew he cared about them,’’ said Mr. McMellen’s wife of 42 years, Jayne (Arnold). She met Mr. McMellen through Dave Harrison, a former three-sport athlete at Tufts who was dating one of her roommates when she lived on Gloucester Street in Boston.

Al Nardini, a former Tufts football player who lived in the same building at the time, was best man at Mr. McMellen’s wedding and is godfather to the McMellens’ daughter, Elizabeth White of Powder Springs, Ga.

“Growing up, it seemed we’d go from one party to another with dad’s best friends from college and their children,’’ said White. “We all skied together, went to Super Bowl parties, and that was because of his persistence and his personality.’’

Meehan, who died earlier this year, Mr. McMellen, Harrison, and Nardini were lifelong friends dating back to their college days.

All were members of the Jumbo Club, a group of former Tufts athletes recognized for achievement in athletics and in their careers who support the Medford institution’s athletic programs.

“The four of us did everything together,’’ said Harrison, a retired Gloucester District Court judge. “Skip was the catalyst when we were all single and also after we all married and raised our families. He always included his friends and co-workers at his family gatherings, and he looked back very fondly on his days as a Tufts athlete and his relationship with Bobby Meehan. Skip was the glue who held us together.

“In the business world, he helped State Street Bank transition from just a bank in Massachusetts to the international corporation it is today,’’ said Harrison, a reference to Mr. McMellen’s position as a sales executive specializing in the bank’s becoming a custodian for mutual funds.

Walter Timilty, clerk of Norfolk County Superior Court, was Mr. McMellen’s golfing buddy.

“He was absolutely the best I ever saw with the putter in his hand,’’ said Timilty. “We played in many member-guest tournaments together, both at Woods Hole and Cape Cod Country Club. We never won much, but he was a joy to know and to play with, just a fine individual.’’

Mr. McMellen’s son, Edward III ‘Teddy’’ of Scituate, is assistant golf professional at Oakley Country Club in Watertown.

“My father got me started in golf with some of the local club pros and we played a lot of rounds together. He loved skiing and sailing but golf was his greatest passion,’’ said Mr. McMellen’s son. “He was very close to his late friend, Bill Cushing, and they competed for many years in the Squirrels [member-guest] Tournament at The Country Club [in Brookline] where Bill was a member.’’

Mr. McMellen, who grew up in Medford, played baseball, hockey, and football at Malden Catholic High School, from which he graduated in 1954. His Legion baseball teammates included Medford’s Bill Monbouquette, a former Boston Red Sox pitcher.

“Skip was my closest friend at Tufts and a [Delta Upsilon] fraternity brother,’’ said former Jumbos right fielder Dick Fortin. “He was a terrific fielder with speed and a good hitter, but what I will most remember him for is that I met my wife, Beth, because of him.

“During Christmas break our junior year, Skip got us a job through his uncle working on the docks in Charlestown. One night, there were too many locals showing up for work, so they didn’t need us. Skip said he knew where there was a party in Belmont, so we went and that’s where I met my future wife. Wherever I went with him, just about everyone knew his name and he knew theirs.’’

After he graduated from Tufts in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Mr. McMellen began a sales career that also included employment with First Data in California and Telecheck in Needham.

He had a chance to turn professional in the Dodgers farm system, but chose the business world instead.

Mr. McMellen lived in Melrose after he was married and, after returning from California, lived in Westwood for 20 years, and then in Quincy before moving to Falmouth.

He was a past member of Oakley Country Club and Norfolk Golf Club and a current member at Monarch Country Club in Palm City and Woods Hole Golf Club in Falmouth.

He was also a member and secretary of the Falmouth Heights Men’s Club.

Mr. McMellen took up sailing as crew for his father-in-law and raced Beetle Cats and 210s out of the Falmouth Yacht Club. In addition to his numerous overseas skiing excursions, he rented a condo in North Conway, N.H., for many years.

“I came from a family of sailors,’’ said his wife, a certified public accountant from Wellesley who was the first female certified public accountant hired by a Big Eight accounting firm in Boston (the former Arthur Young & Co.). Her family sailed out of Falmouth Yacht Club.

“I made it clear when we were married that he was required to crew for us, and in turn, he made a skier out of me,’’ she said. “He was a great sports fan, had season tickets to the Patriots, and he just loved getting about a dozen tickets for many years for the family gathering to see the Holiday Pops.’’

Mr. McMellen also leaves a sister, Anne Marie Carpenter of Ogunquit, Maine, and Port St. Lucie, Fla.; and four grandchildren.

A service has been held.

Globe correspondent Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com