Wednesday, May 10, 2017


On Medina's northwest side is a nice park, Ray Mellert Park.  On North Huntington, it has been then for as long as we have lived in Medina, the late 1980's. Only recently did I begin to wonder who was Ray Mellert and why did Medina name a park after him?

Ray Mellert was a life-long Medina resident, born to George & Edith Mellert in 1919. He graduated from Medina High School in 1936.

Ray Mellert's Senior picture from the 1936 Medina High School Yearbook
From his nickname and his quote from the caption, and several other incidents listed in the yearbooks, Ray was a well-liked, happy fellow who enjoyed a good escapade.

U.S.S. Wyoming from 1944-45 (Wikipedia)
Ray joined the U.S. Navy even before World War II broke out. He served all his time aboard the U.S. S. Wyoming, a training ship based out of Chesapeake MD. The Wyoming was built as a battleship for WWI, but had been re-purposed as a training facility for anti-aircraft gunners. He was a supply officer.

After he returned from the service, Ray joined his dad at Free Oil. George Mellert was a founding member of the enterprise, and Ray took over the reins of the company in 1957 when his father died.

Medina Gazette 25 May 1956 p. 4.

Ray was a big supporter of youth sports and was instrumental in keeping youth baseball alive in Medina. He also supported wrestling, basketball and music programs at the high school. He didn't just write a check, he rolled up his sleeves and pitched in wherever it was needed.

He was a stellar boss. Several employees stated they "never worked for a better man." He insisted that all company outings include families, with wives and children taking part.

Ray also was very active in the community joining these civic groups:
Al Koran Shrine
  • 32 degree Masons of Cleveland
  • Medina Methodist Church
  • Medina Chamber of Commerce
  • F & A.M. Mason Lodge
  • Baseball Federation & Hot Stove Leagues of Medina
  • Medina Booster Club

Before & after pictures of Medina

When the Community Design Committee took issue with all the garish signs that populated downtown Medina in the 60's and 70's, Ray decided to take action. He tore down the offensive sign and put one up that fit the bill.

Medina Gazette 25 Feb 1971 p. 2
In the early 1970's, the city of Medina bought 15 acres of land from the Pythian Sisters for a new park on the city's northwest side. They applied for a Federal grant and hired a grant coordinator and architects.

Ray Mellert died suddenly in March of 1974, just weeks before the opening of the park.

Medina Gazette 18 Mar., 1974, p.1

Medina City council voted to name the park after him.

Medina Gazette, 31 May 1975 , p.1

When the park opened it had:
  • Two tennis courts
  • A handball court
  • A picnic pavilion
  • Playground equipment
  • Basketball court
  • Two ball fields
  • A large brick restroom
The park has since had its ups and downs, sometimes being associated with criminal activity.

But it has also been a setting for positive activity.

The above plaque recognizes the efforts of two neighborhood volunteers who strive for positive influence and mentoring.

So, now you know!

Oh, and I have just been reminded that the Ray Mellert Park is the site of a Pokemon Go Gym!

Medina High School Yearbook, 1936, from Ancestry Library Edition
Medina County Gazette
US Navy History

No comments: