Born in Burley, Idaho to Henry ad Violet Lambert, Mel spent most of his childhood living in Burley and Snohomish.
During the Depression, the family routinely moved between the two communities when Henry could find work. They had familiar campsites along the way. At age 13 Mel decided it was time to strike out on his own and he cleaned house for room, board and violin lessons. In the fall he worked the pea harvest and then at the cannery for spending money. That made him about a month late starting school, but he would catch up within a couple of weeks.
After high school graduation, Mel married Shirley Gochnour and then joined the Army Air Force, staying active in the Air Force Reserve, ultimately retiring as a Major. After World War II, Mel entered the University of Washington, graduating in three years. Moving to Prineville in 1952, he began a career teaching at Crook County High School. He taught music and psychology and was Vice Principal and Dean of Boys. Never content to have just one job, he also farmed in the summer and stayed active in the Air Force Reserve. He also found time to be the President of Kiwanis, a City Councilor, and then County Commissioner.
While teaching music he would make monthly trips to Post and Paulina to ensure that those students received a quality music education.
After Shirley died, Mel retired and married Judi Schley. They enjoyed years of travel and golf. Their home was in Sun City, Arizona. For the past 15 years Mel struggled to maintain a sense of independence while dealing with the effects of a significant stroke. That challenge ended August 27, 2010 at the age if 86.
Mel was preceded in death by his parents; wife Shirley; brother Clem Lambert; sister Jean Kelley.
Survivors include his wife, Judy; brothers Jim and Dwaine Lambert; sisters Dorothy Kalma and Sharon Richards; sons, James (Linda) and Greg (Nancy); step-daughter Debbie Dillie, step-son Scott Pinkston (Tara); eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Memorials can be made to the Crook County High School golf team.
At Mel's request there will be no memorial service.