Melvin “Mel” Ruehmann, 94, of Spring Grove, Minn., died on Thursday, March 21, 2019, at Tweeten-Lutheran Care Center.
Mel was born on April 25, 1924, in Winona, Minn., to Henry and Cleora (Knoll) Ruehmann. Mel started his music career at age seven when he took up playing an instrument. He continued playing trumpet throughout high school, playing in the Winona Municipal Band and later on in several dance bands. Mel graduated from Winona High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and proudly served for three years in World War II in the Pacific Theater. After his discharge, he graduated from Winona State College. Mel started as the band director at Mabel High School (later Mabel-Canton) in 1948, and remained there his entire career, retiring in 1988. Under Mel’s direction, the Mabel High School band consistently earned high honors in regional/state contests. On June 22, 1946, he married Eleanore Bittner. She later passed away on April 2, 1989. After her death, he continued his love of music by participating in musical groups such as Luren Singers and Winona Brass Band, playing his last concert with them on his 85th birthday. On November 19, 1999, he married Judy (Ness) Engebretson. They lived in Decorah for several years until Mel became a resident at Gundersen-Tweeten in 2014. Mel and Judy loved to travel which took them to places all over the U.S. and even took a Rhine River cruise, which was the highlight of their travels.
Mel enjoyed all types of fishing, especially fishing for trout in the streams of Northeast Iowa and walleye on Leech Lake. He was a member of the American Legion, Phi Beta Mu (music fraternity), the American School Band Directors Association, Luren Singers, and he and Judy were charter members of the Winona Brass Band. Mel loved spending time with his grandchildren/great-grandchildren, attending their activities when possible. He especially had such a loving way with small children.
Mel touched many lives and instilled a love and appreciation of music in many students during his career.
Mel is survived by his wife, Judy of Decorah; five children, Rick (Nacia) of Hayfield, Minn., Susan (Bill) Blagsvedt of Waukon, Iowa, Nancy (Richard) McNally of Ridgeway, Minn., Roger (Bridget) of Cochrane, Wis., and Robert (Lisa) of Kasson, Minn.; stepson, Mark Engebretson of St. Paul, Minn.; grandchildren, Lisa Mundy, Heather Dahl, Nicole Schriever, Kelli Jax, Erin Jorgensen, Mia Wagner, Jesse Koeller, Jenna Hartman, Ross Ruehmann, Riley Ruehmann, Eleana Ruehmann, Chandler Ruehmann, and Cameron Ruehmann; 20 great-grandchildren; a sister, Marlene (Robert) Kohner of Winona, Minn.; and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Eleanore, and his parents.
His funeral service will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Spring Grove. Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, March 29, at the Trinity Lutheran Church and one hour prior to the services. Burial with Military Honors will be in the Mabel Lutheran Cemetery. Memorials are preferred in lieu of flowers. The Mengis Funeral Home in Mabel is assisting with arrangements.