Obituary for Marty Michael “Chip” Melvin: 1960-2019
Marty was born on August 24, 1960 in Chamberlain, SD to Warren and Donna (Maher) Melvin and shared his birthday with his Dad. He grew up in Holabird, SD and graduated from Highmore High School in 1978. He grew up playing football, wrestling and rodeoing. Always an example of a tough cowboy with true grit, Marty started riding bareback horses at the young age of 8 years old. He came up through the ranks of 4-H, Little Britches and High School Rodeo, winning too many awards to count, but most notably SD 4-H Sr All Around ’76,78,79, SD 4-H Sr Bareback ’79, SD 4-H Sr Steer Wrestling ’78,’79, and SD 4-H Jr All Around ’70, Boys Breakaway ’74, and others. He attended South Dakota State University on a wrestling scholarship and also competed for the rodeo team riding bulls, barebacks, calf roping, and steer wrestling. He qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo 4 times, also winning the Great Plains Region All Around, Bull Riding, Barebacks, and several other titles before graduating from SDSU with a BS in Geography. His vast knowledge of geography and his ability to remember every fairground and little rodeo arena in the United States earned him the nickname of “Rand McNally” because he was the person to call for directions.
He joined the PRCA and won many honors including Badlands Circuit Steer Wrestling Champion ‘81, Badlands Circuit All Around ‘79,’81,’82, Linderman Award ’83, ’84, and the Cheyenne Frontier Days All Around ’83 on his way to qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo 9 times during his career. He won the Average Championship in Steer Wrestling at the NFR and was also voted Coors Fans’ Favorite Cowboy in ‘89. He was drafted for the Winston ProRodeo Tour as a member of the Jolly Rancher Team and also appears as the bull dogger on the Resistol hat box to this day. Marty was also featured in magazines and calendars representing various western brands, then worldwide as the iconic “Marlboro Man” in many print and tv advertisements for over 20 years. He was a Gold Card member of the PRCA and was inducted into the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Hall of Fame in the Cowboy Great category in 1992. He also helped mount and haze for many other cowboys as they chased their rodeo dreams. He cherished the many life-long friends and memories from his years on the rodeo trail. Once he began his Christian walk, his close friends said that he set an amazing example of a Christian cowboy, husband, father, and friend.
On August 4, 1991 he married the love of his life, Judy Painter in Ladner, SD and they made their home in Keller, Texas. Always a humble and loving man, Marty credited much of his success, both in and out of the arena, to his wife and best friend. They were blessed with 3 children—Paul Lewis, Marilyn Mae, and Katlyn Ann. They later moved to Paradise, Texas where he took great joy in raising their kids, coaching up and coming rodeo kids and continuing to raise and train outstanding performance horses that wore the M4 brand. He enjoyed following his kids as they pursued their own rodeo careers and grew into adulthood. Marty was known as the ultimate “rodeo dad” that everyone could count on, whether someone needed a calf pushed or a steer hazed, and he never missed a youth rodeo or basketball game. He was recently blessed with the birth of his first granddaughter, Elizabeth. He attended church at Grace Fellowship in Paradise, and throughout his life grew in his relationship with Christ and took pride in sharing it with others. He starred in several movies and music videos over the years, most recently working on “The Chosen.”
He lived a full life in his 59 years here on Earth as a believer, cowboy, horse trainer, rodeo contestant, father, grandfather, son, brother, husband and friend. It was said that Marty had the unique ability to make everyone feel like he was their best friend, never forgetting the “little guy.”
He is survived by his beloved wife Judy Melvin of Paradise, son Paul, daughters Marilyn and Katlyn, granddaughter Elizabeth, and sister Michel Melvin of SD. He was preceded in death by his father Warren Melvin and mother Donna Melvin.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 19, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News