Walter William Mellenbruch, age 80, was born June 7, 1942 to William Vernon and Syrelda Irene (Stoddard)Mellenbruch at their country home west of Rich Hill. He passed on to Heaven on November 25, 2022 at his own country home, not a mile from where he was born. Walt graduated from Rich Hill High School in 1960, and began dating “the girl next door,” Norma Lea Drysdale. Since red was his favorite color, she was a good choice with her bright red hair.
He and Norma Lea weremarried in 1961, and spent the next 61 years together. This union was blessed with three children: Michael Alan, Lori Ann,and Bruce Wesley. He was a member of the Foster Christian Church, and served as an elder for a time.
Walt, also known as “The Ridge Runner”, spent many years as a dairy and grain farmer. As his physical abilities changed, Walt made whatever changes and adaptations were necessary to maintain a great quality of life. He began raising beef cattle and started on a whole new endeavor involving computers. Following a brief computer course, Walt devoted himself to hours of study, teaching himself all aspects of computer building and repair. Many schools, businesses, and individuals benefited from his work. He spent as many hours as necessary to ensure that his customers were satisfied. Walt was not all work and no play. As a young man, he had a “need for speed”, and enjoyed tractor pulling for a number of years. Who could forget the motorcycle he adapted to accommodate his wheelchair. It was a marvel to see him
racing down the highway in that unique machine. He thought about the need for speed right up to the very end, because recently he was talking about it and said, “Someday when I get to Heaven and get my wings I am going to break the sound barrier.” He was an avid outdoorsman, spending many hours hunting, fishing, and finding arrowheads, teaching his skills to his children and grandchildren. Traveling was something else Walt greatly enjoyed. He, Norma Lea, and the whole family saw many parts of the United States, and he went on cruises to Hawaii and the Caribbean. But he didn’t have to travel far to have a good time.
Out in the back yard he ate many a “salad” of sticks, grass, and dandelions made by a proud granddaughter. Who could forget the hours the grandkids, nieces, and nephews spent in the computer room, playing games against Walt and each other. He was proud of all his children and grandchildren; they were truly the apple of his eye. There was no challenge too big for Walter. He was driven and determined. When a problem arose, he would spend some time in thought, and say, “Okay; this is what we’re going to do.” He cheered and motivated so many people. He never knew a stranger, and loved to visit and joke with everyone he met. Walt’s positive attitude toward life, his generosity, and love for others is a legacy that will not be forgotten.
Walter is survived by his wife, Norma Lea Mellenbruch, of the home; sons Mike Mellenbruch (Vianne), and Bruce Mellenbruch (Chanda) of Rich Hill, Mo.; daughter Lori King (Rick) of Butler, Mo.; two sisters, Carolyn McCombs of Webb City, Mo. and Linda McClanahan (Jerry) of Carthage, Mo. He is also survived by fourteen grandchildren: Steven Mellenbruch (Samantha), Ashli Bowen (Edward), Michael Norton (Sarah), Derek Norton (Katie), Brandon Norton (Caitlyn), Brett Norton, Will Rapp, Colton Mellenbruch (Cassie), and Kendra Smith (Josh), Holly Kauffman, Chelsea Tourtillott, Brittany Williams (Dakota), Breanna Tourtillott, and Cody Hartline. He is further survived by 32 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by hisparents and his brother, Clint Mellenbruch.
Funeral service will be 11 am Tuesday, November 29, 2022 at the Heuser Funeral Home, Rich Hill, Missouri. Burial will be in the Green Lawn Cemetery, Rich Hill. Visitation will be held from 10 am to service time Tuesday at the Heuser Chapel. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Foster Christian Church. Online condolences can be left at www.heuserfunerals.com.