Melvin B. Elliston, a longtime Asheville-area resident known to most simply as "M.B.", passed peacefully on August 17, 2012. Born in Coleman, Texas on July 2, 1919, he was 93.
M.B. lived in locales throughout the South before settling here in 1980. His early years were shaped by the struggles of Depression-era west Texas, and he quickly became a jack-of-all-trades — a cowboy, farmer, gardener, car trader and bookseller.
While attending Washington Missionary College in the early 1940s, M.B. met and married Margaret Davis. For the next 20 years, he worked as a pastor, evangelist, church builder and fundraiser for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. In addition he worked diligently for religious freedom. In the 1940s and '50s, he and Margaret helped build 17 churches in North Carolina, with M.B. personally handling much of the construction. Later, he worked as a general contractor, apartment and motel owner, cattle farmer and land dealer.
M.B. was preceded in death by his wife Margaret, who passed last August at age 88; his parents, Custer Dee Elliston and Callie Sanders Elliston; and his two sisters, Margaret Gifford and Mildred Feather. He is survived by his three sons, Bruce, Leon and Roger and by his six grandchildren. His special interest and commitments of his exceptional energy were directed towards education of his children and grandchildren.
M.B. walked tall in every community he joined, connecting his neighbors and sparking new ventures. He was a tireless worker, deeply committed to his faith and family. He never lost his zest for life's simpler pleasures — his trucks and tractors, animals and gardens, cowboy hats and bolo ties. An expert and entertaining storyteller, he was quick to share a smile, a laugh and a yarn.
M.B. concluded his 2004 autobiography — the fittingly titled "Stories I Can Tell" — with these words: "Overall, I feel deeply blessed and deeply appreciative to have been an American from 1919 on, living though the rest of the century and on into a new one. …In the long history of the world, what a wonderful time to be living!"
M.B.'s family requests that any donations made on his behalf go to Hospice Foundation of CarePartners, SDA Church of Hendersonville, or Mission Foundation.
Private family graveside services will be held Friday, August 24. A memorial service is scheduled for 2:30 pm at Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian on Saturday, August 25, with Elder Charles Ferguson leading the service. The family will receive friends for one hour prior to the service on Saturday at the funeral home.
Read Melvin Elliston's Obituary and Guestbook on www.grocefuneralhome.com.