Mitchell Wesley “Mitch” Melton, 69, of Chestnut Hill, a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a co-founder of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, died March 11 of prostate cancer at Nazareth Hospital.
Mr. Melton served as a Democratic representative from the 196th District in North Philadelphia from Jan. 7, 1969, to Nov. 30, 1972. He helped to organize the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus in 1969.
During his time in the legislature, he wrote and sponsored a bill that provides for a moment of silent prayer and meditation in public schools at the beginning of the day for those who wish to pray. The bill was enacted into law on Dec. 6, 1972.
He also wrote and sponsored a bill that says anyone found guilty of a motor-vehicle code infraction and sentenced to pay a fine would be given seven days to pay before being imprisoned. The bill became law July 29, 1971.
Mr. Melton served on the board of the Chestnut Hill Community Association from 1997 to 2006 and also had been a board member at the Mt. Airy Learning Tree from 2008 until the time of his death.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, he attended public schools in the city and received a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from Antioch University.
He was an insurance agent, writ server and Democratic committeeman before his election to the State House of Representatives in 1969. Until January of this year, when he was hospitalized, he had served as a court officer in Philadelphia’s Municipal Court.
As a young man, he joined the Morris Brown A.M.E. Church in North Philadelphia and later became a church steward and a member of the choir and male chorus. He also served as a Boy Scout master.
Mr. Melton is survived by his wife of 51 years, the former Evelyn Grace Riddick; sons Tyrone Eugene and Kevin Mitch; a daughter, Donna Marie Russell; his mother, Ethel Melton; a sister, and two grandchildren.
Funeral services were held March 19 at Morris Brown A.M.E. Church with interment in Chelten Hills Cemetery. – WF
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