Quimby Melton Jr. celebrated his 90th birthday Sunday by attending First United Methodist Church in Griffin where he has been a member for 88 years and missed very few Sundays. He received and acknowledged an ovation in the sanctuary for which Laura broke the ground on her fourth birthday.With him was his entire family – his wife, four children and their spouses, seven grandchildren with two spouses, two great-grandchildren and two Godchildren and their spouses.It was quite the celebration of life.All the grandchildren and great-grandchildren have different names for Quimby. The Geiger girls call him Papaman and, now, so do we.Though not as spry as he once was, Papaman still gets around well. With the aid of a walking stick, he goes to the street to get the morning newspaper and to the mailbox for the mail. He and May, his bride of nearly 67 years, still live in the home they built nearly 60 years ago.Papaman’s mind is still sharp and he keeps it honed by reading his encyclopedias and a never ending stream of novels. Newspapers and the written word have sustained he and his family for five generations now and he continues to embrace them.Papaman still has the bearing of the soldier statesman he is. He served in the Army during World War II and was wounded in action in the Philippines. He lost his only brother in action in France. Lt. Fred Melton was felled by a sniper bullet while rushing to the aid of one of his men.Papaman came home, raised a family, ran a thriving business, and served in the Georgia House of Representatives and on the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.He has been a loving, caring mentor for everyone in his clan, providing a listening ear and the voice of experience.But most of all, he has been a man of God. Behind the clear plastic portion of his wallet there is a picture of Jesus Christ. It has been there for as long as I have known him.Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the three patriarchs of the people of Israel.Quimby Melton Jr. is the patriarch of the extended family that carries his name. We are all the stronger for his great strength and all the wiser for his vast wisdom.Happy birthday, Papaman! Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.
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