Maria Melcher

Maria Melcher (Contreras)

Wednesday, September 15th, 1937 - Tuesday, April 20th, 2021
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Maria Contreras Melcher, 83, died peacefully at home on April 20th, after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. Maria was born in Valle Umbroso, San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1937 and emigrated to Benton Harbor when she was 9 years old. She learned English while attending Morton Hill Elementary School in Benton Harbor. Upon graduation from Benton Harbor High School she began her long history of employment with Whirlpool Corporation. Starting in the law department, she quickly became the executive secretary to chief council for the corporation, Robert Willemin. When Maria retired she was the executive secretary for Jack Sparks, CEO of Whirlpool Corporation. After years of active membership in First Congregational Church in Benton Harbor she became a founding member of Pilgrim Congregational UCC in Lincoln Township.

Maria was preceded in death by her parents, Ambrosio and Cruz; her brothers, Reyes, Filiberto, Leandro, and Ambrosio; her beloved sister, Leoncia; and her infant grandson, Washburne Robert Melcher. She leaves behind her husband of 51 years, Robert Melcher and sons David Melcher {and his wife Susan and daughter Mara Mayhem Melcher), and Andrew Melcher {and his son Maddox Gray Melcher); and numerous nieces and nephews. Maria's family is thankful for the love and care provided by Caring Circle Hospice and the extraordinary caregivers from Right at Home, Ashlie MacGregor and Sheila Moore.

Cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held in the future, when conditions permit. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to Pilgrim Congregational UCC, 1200 West Glenlord Rd, St. Joseph, Ml 49085 or

Those wishing to leave an online condolence may do so at Arrangements have been entrusted to Starks & Menchinger Chapel & Cremation Services.
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Private Condolence

Ann Wilkinson Hunnell

Posted at 04:32pm
Brother Bob: How sad I was to hear that you lost your life's mate; yet I realize that it must be bitter sweet. My deep sympathy to you and yours. Bill and I were together for 52 years so I know the ache in your heart is deep. I will always remember Maria's beauty -inside and out. Sweet, smart, compassionate, thoughtful, caring and oh, what a great administrative mind. Whirlpool benefited from her talent in so many ways! The Pilgrim Family was blessed by her presence and participation. How dearly she is missed.
May the Lord Jesus whom we worship bless you with His Presence and may His Holy Spirit comfort and sustain you in the life adjustments that come with great change.
Claudia and I are neighbors in The Villas in Benton Harbor. We both miss the unity of family we once owned at Pilgrim and hold dear those memories.
Please continue to sing His Praises in your head, heart and with your voice. He has blessed you with such a marvelous voice.
Ann Wilkinson Hunnell
I have recently remarried and am living in The Villas in Benton Harbor.
I pray that the Lord Jesus whom you and I love and worship will be very near you in the next year and may His Holy Spirit comfort your heart and mind. Praise be to our Heavenly Father who has given us a New Birth into a Living Hope. This Living Hope in our Resurrection and eternal life with Christ Jesus and our loved ones carries us through our grieving.
May you ever continue to praise our Lord in song both in your heart and with that marvelous voice you've been given. You and the true Pilgrim Family are ever in my heart. Claudia and I are now neighbors. Love, Ann Wilkinson Hunnell

Emily Hopp Gibiec

Posted at 04:53pm
I have fond memories of spending time at Grand Mere beach with the Melcher family. Maria reminded me so much of my mom - Lupe Hopp - which I appreciated, as it's not often you run into many St. Joe residents from Mexico :-) I imagine the two of them reuniting in heaven and just having a ball! Sending prayers of peace to your family during this difficult time, Emily (Hopp) Gibiec

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