Funeral procession for longtime Smith county commissioner pauses in front of courthouse

Funeral procession for Andrew Melontree Sr.

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - A funeral procession for former Smith County commissioner and community leader Andrew Melontree, Sr. winded through the streets of downtown Tyler on Thursday morning.

At one point, the procession paused in front of the Smith County Courthouse as county staffers stood outside to pay their respects.

Graveside services for Meltontree were held Thursday morning at the Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery.

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Former Smith County Commissioner and community leader Andrew Melontree Sr. passed away July 2, 2020, at the age of 89. He served Smith County for 20 years.

JoAnn Hampton said although they campaigned against each other, she saw him as a mentor, a friend, and a guiding light.

“The contributions Mr. Melontree made in Smith County were numerous,” Commissioner Hampton said.

Melontree served on the Tyler City Council from 1979 to 1982, and as Smith County Commissioner for Precinct 4, from 1983 to 2002.

“Commissioner Melontree was a true gentleman, and I was honored to call him a friend,” Commissioner Jeff Warr said.

He was a charter member and one of the seven founding members of the Tyler Organization of Men (1968). Statewide, he was a charter member and one of the nine founding members of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats.

“He was a shining example of statesmanship and gentleman advocacy,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said. “During his decades of serving the community, he always conducted himself with the highest regard for others and the highest level of ethics.”

“Commissioner Melontree was a people person,” Commissioner Terry Phillips said. “No matter who you were, he always went out of his way to speak to you. He will be missed.”

Commissioner Cary Nix said he was sorry to hear of Melontree’s passing. “I appreciate his service to Smith County,” he said.

Melontree grew up in Marlin, Texas, and moved to Tyler to attend Texas College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology in 1952.

After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served from 1952-1956, with a one-year tour of duty in Korea. He was assigned as a Medical Lab Specialist and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and received an honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1956. He remained in the Air Force Reserves until 1960.

Melontree earned his Doctorate of Jurisprudence at Texas Southern University – Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1974. He was a Certified Personnel Manager, earning his certificate from Le Tourneau University in 1985. He was a Certified Income Tax Preparer and a Registered Medical Laboratory Technician. He served as the President of the graduate chapter Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. – a fraternity of which he had been a member since 1949.

Melontree was the first African American to be employed by Medical Center Hospital (presently U.T. Medical Center Hospital) as a Laboratory Technician (1956); be employed by the East Texas Tuberculosis Hospital (presently U.T. Health Center) as a Clinical Laboratory Director (1956); be employed by Stewart Blood Bank as a Medical Laboratory Technician (1962); be employed by Mother Francis Hospital as a Bacteriologist (1969); be appointed Election Judge by the Smith County Democratic Party (1969); achieved the status of Vice President for Branch Management – Tyler Savings and Loan Association (presently Bank of America 1971); be elected Smith County Commissioner (1982), and he was nominated for United States Marshal for the Eastern Judicial District of Texas (1993).

He was appointed to the Community Development Block Grant Committee for the Texas Department of Community Affairs in 1980, and to the Texas Southern Board of Regents in 1983. He was appointed to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 1991, and to the State Bar of Texas District 2A Grievance Committee in 1981. He served as an administrative assistant to Congressman Ralph Hall in 1982.

As Commissioner, Melontree succeeded in 1996, after three unsuccessful attempts, in securing the inclusion of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday as an official paid county holiday to be recognized annually by all Smith County employees.

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