Cover photo for Melvin Reifschneider's Obituary
1937 Melvin 2023

Melvin Reifschneider

February 1, 1937 — April 2, 2023

Windsor

 

On February 1, 1937, Melvin Alex Reifschneider entered this world in a little farm house near Bayard. Nebraska.  He was the second son born to Leah (Schneider) Reifschneider and Alex Reifschneider. Mel was a first generation American on his father's side, and he was always proud of his Germans from Russia heritage. He was equally as proud to be an American, and he remained patriotic until the end of his life.

 Following the death of his father when Mel was six years of age, his mother moved her three sons to Gering, Nebraska.  There he would attend schools, graduating from Gering High School in the class of 1956.  His favorite subjects were shop class, art class, and football.  He was awarded a football scholarship to Scottsbluff Junior College and attended school there for one year before transferring to Colorado A & M (now  Colorado State University), where he majored in geology and belonged to the Acacia Fraternity. 

In May of 1958 Mel went back to Gering in his '57 Chevy convertible,  where he would be reunited with Connie Kays, who had a crush on him from the age of 14.  They were married on December 28, 1958, in a ceremony at the Gering Methodist Church.  Little did she know, but she was about to begin the adventure of a lifetime!

It should also be noted that on the same day as their marriage, the football game that came to be known as the "Greatest Game Ever Played" was being held.  It was between the Baltimore Colts (Johnny Unitas was QB) and the New York Giants.  Mel was watching the game with his "best man", it went into Overtime, and as a result Mel was 20 minutes late for his wedding.  In the Denver Post 50 years later, there was a huge article about the game.  That article was lovingly placed in their wedding album.

Connie and Mel made their home in Fort Collins, and Mel began working for a local building contrator until July of 1960, when he was drafted into the United States Army.  He did his basic training stateside and was then deployed to Germany.  Connie sold his '57 Chevy Convertible, bought a plane ticket, and joined Mel in Germany.  That is when the travel bug bit them, and they spent the next 18 months traveling all over Europe, oftentimes camping in an army pup tent. 

To earn extra money for travel, Connie babysat the children of American army officers.  To this day they still maintain a close relationship with one of the families. 

Mel was honorably discharged from the army in 1962.  They made Fort Collins their permanent home, and Mel resumed working in the building industry, learning the skills of a brick mason.  A few years later he founded Mel's Masonry, Inc. That led to 50 plus years of laying literally millions of brick and stone on homes, fireplaces, apartment houses, and even Park Lane Towers on Howes Street in Fort Collins.  Not long ago Mel said he never considered going to work a job because he loved what he did.  He mentored many future masons, many of whom would later begin their own masonry business.  Although small in stature, Mel left a giant footprint in Northern Colorado and points beyond, leaving a lasting legacy of his artistic masonry skills. Years later, following his retirement, he volunteered to do the brick and stone work on several Habitat for Humanity homes in Loveland.

On October 29, 1968, a precious little boy joined our family, and we became what Erik has always called The Three Musketeers.  That little boy is now a grown man, and he was, and is, his father's pride and joy.

Truly a Renaissance man, Mel was a man of many talents and interests.  He could fix anything, including a tree in the front yard.  It was split down the middle, the result of a snowstorm.  He figured out a way to drill into the tree, insert a metal rod, and bring the two sections together.  That tree is still thriving!

Among his many interests, he loved to travel, play golf with buddies, gardening, putzing in the yard, and growing prize-winning zinnias, Connie's favorite flower.  He and Connie were avid collectors of fine art, and in 1961 they purchased  their first oil paintings from the artist Gustav Turk, who was selling his paintings at the side of the road in Bavaria, Germany.

Following his retirement, he took art lessons and began creating lovely paintings for family and friends.  He also became an accomplished cook, creating many memorable meals.  His chili is legendary!  A couple of weeks before his passing, he spent a whole afternoon making a large pot of chili to leave for Connie and Erik.  Above all, he loved spending time with Connie and Erik, and delighted in beating them in the game of Farkle!

Mel leaves behind his wife, Connie S. Reifschneider of the family home in Windsor, and his son Erik Von Reifschneider of Loveland, CO. He is also survived by special friends, Dr. Ashok Srivastava, his wife Dr. Lynn Waelde, and their daugher Leela of Mountain View, CA., Julieanne Grabert, RN and her husband, Dr. Brian Grabert of Colorado Springs, CO., Bill and Debby Eckrich of Cheyenne,WY., Dr. Robert Juhala and his wife Karen of Fort Collins,  CO., Peter Kandel of Kaarst, Germany, and Barb and Terry Bendixen of Windsor, CO.

Mel is also survived by sisters-in-law Marlene Reifschneider of Aurora, CO., Sandra Graves and  husband Dr. Bill Graves of McCook, NE., Nancy Maus and husband Dan Maus of Greeley, CO., and Mary Hooper and husband Jerry Hooper of Arvada, CO., along with several nieces and nephews and numerous friends from around the globe.

As per Mel's wishes, he will be cremated, and he did not want any kind of memorial service.  His cremains will be interred at Fort Logan National Cemetery with full military honors.  That date is yet to be determined. 

In the event you would like to honor Mel's memory, he has requested donations to Tunnels 2 Towers, an organization that provides mortgage-free homes to wounded veterans and first responders and their families. Their website is www.t2t.org.  There you will find several different methods of donating, including a site that notifies the family of any donations made in his honor.

Erik and Connie are grateful for all the prayers, support, love and compassion that were shown to us and Mel during his four years of battling cancer.  He was a great and honorable man with a wonderful sense of humor, and Connie and Erik could not have asked for a  better husband or father.  On April 2, 2023, Mel passed peacefully, in his own home, in his own bed, with Connie and Erik by his side, each of them holding his hands, The Three Musketeers, together, just as Mel wanted.   We shall  miss him every day of our lives.

In Gratitude

Connie and Erik

 

 
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Melvin Reifschneider, please visit our flower store.

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