Melvin Roy (Mel) Waldrop passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones at his Bakersfield home on January 29, 2022 at the age of 72.
Mel was born in Bakersfield on September 28, 1949 to Roy (Dick) and Bonell Waldrop. He was the second of three children. Mel grew up in the Delano/Earlimart area of Kern County where he became known as a hard worker and a talented athlete with a witty and dry sense of humor. Mel attended Delano High School and Porterville College. At Porterville College he wrestled on the 1970 Central California Conference Championship Wrestling team. In 1993, Mel was inducted into the Porterville College Athletic Hall of Fame.
In the summer of 1972, at the Delano Bowling Alley, Mel met Janet Zaninovich, who quickly became the love of his life. Janet and Mel married June 3, 1978 and welcomed two boys to their family, Matthew (1984) and Anthony (1988). When his sons were growing up, Mel enjoyed helping them with their various school sports, sometimes coaching and always as a supportive fan. Family trips would often involve activities such as exploring national parks, going to major league baseball games, fishing for bass at his mom’s property in Oklahoma, whitewater rafting the Kern River, mountain biking and hiking. Many friends and family have cherished memories of playing sports and enjoying vacations with Mel. He was an avid Boston Red Sox fan and one of his favorite trips, when the boys were young, was taking the family to a game at Fenway Park in Boston and taking a tour of the ballpark including the “Big Green Monster”. Other ballparks Mel visited were Wrigley Field, Texas Rangers Stadium, Baltimore Orioles Stadium, Angels Stadium and Dodger Stadium.
One of Mel’s most defining characteristics was his work ethic. As a house painter/handyman for 40+ years, he always gave his best to each job. This manifested in that he never had to advertise, relying on word of mouth in the community to find work. Getting a job done by Mel meant you were getting reliability, quality work, and a fair share of witty puns.
Mel’s work ethic and competitive drive combined in a remarkable way during his 20+ year weightlifting career. He won countless competitions and set numerous World and National records, one of which was a 610 lb deadlift in his 165 lb weight class. Mel traveled all over the United States and once to London for these competitions. When he was done with competitions in the late 1990’s, Mel continued to train other lifters for their events. He was always humble when it came to his accomplishments and would prefer to find the next friendly competition rather than talk about past triumphs.
Throughout his life, Mel was drawn to physical activity and competition. He loved to play in recreational sports leagues, with his favorites being fast-pitch softball, slow-pitch softball, USTA tennis and pickleball. When not playing himself, he was Janet’s favorite fan at her many tennis and pickleball tournaments where he made many new cherished friendships. More recently, some other favorite activities included card nights with family and friends (5 Crowns or gin rummy 500), newspaper crosswords, reading, going to the casino (with his mom and brother), helping Janet in the garden, growing the best peaches, movie nights and dinner at Happy Jacks. Mel also loved spending time at son Matthew’s home in Nipomo, enjoying the view, hiking “the killer hill”, watching the deer, going to the movies and picking up dinner from Jocko’s Restaurant. He also loved traveling to the Pacific Northwest where son Anthony and daughter-in-law Megan live. Activities there included hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, visiting Anthony’s worksites and learning new card games.
Friends and family will dearly miss Mel’s calm, generous, and mischievous presence. We will cherish our memories of him every time we do one of his favorite activities and we will never forget the special twinkle he would get in his eye when teasing Janet or trying to pull a fast one on somebody.
Mel is survived by his wife Janet, sons Matthew and Anthony (wife Megan), mother Bonell, brother Calvin, sister Lavinia (husband Ronnie), many in-laws, nieces and nephews. His father Roy precedes him in death.
A memorial service for Mel will be held Saturday, February 26 at 9:30 am at Hodel’s Country Dining in Bakersfield.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, the National Parks Foundation or a charity of your choice.M