Mel Breitbarth

June 21, 2023

Mel Breitbarth, 71, of Truman passed away Sunday, June 18, 2023, surrounded by his loving family. A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, June 22, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Truman with the Rev. Timothy Chase officiating. Visitation will be Wednesday, June 21, from 4–7 p.m. at Zaharia Funeral Home. Online condolences can be left at

Melvin Jerome Breitbarth was born in Fairmont on June 7, 1952, to Harold and Isabella (Urban) Breitbarth. He was baptized and confirmed at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Antrim Township, Watonwan County, where he attended school through eighth grade. He graduated from Truman High School with the Class of 1970.

After graduation he attended Jackson Vocational School and graduated in 1972. He worked for Durwood Boesch after school and then worked for 10 years at Fairmont Railway Motors. In 1986 he started welding at Hen-Way Mfg. Inc. near Northrop. In 2018 he retired after 32 years there. In 1994 he started Melmar Fabrication, Inc. in Truman, doing business with area farmers and fabrication for Hen-Way Mfg. Inc.

Mel’s love of softball led him to play with several good teams. Gopherland Cob, Rode Construction, Silker Photography, Urban Construction and the Truman Jaycee Team. It was at one of these games that he met the love of his life, Marlene Thompson. They were married in 1982. Her parents, Alden and Mildred (Flatgard) Thompson, farmed north of Jackson. Mel joined the Truman Fire Department in 1987 and was captain of the Tanker II for many years. He enjoyed calling bingo at the Martin County Fair for many years. He retired from the fire dept in 2009.

Next to the bingo stand at the fair was the Truman food stand. He worked at and supervised that for the Truman Jaycees or for St. Paul’s Lutheran School PTL since 1981 when he joined the Jaycees. You could see him flipping a burger, frying a golden French fry or just serving a piece of pie to a deserving customer. He called out to the crowd “fresh, never frozen, ground beef” as they passed by.

When spring came around, he was thinking about the Minnesota Twins and the upcoming year. If not at the game with family or friends, he was watching from his recliner or listening to Dan Gladden. In between games he could be found at Dawson’s Campground starting the biggest-best fire ever made, many a night with hot coals in the morning. Camping with friends became a seasonal practice for over 35 years.

He was involved with the Truman Days Committee and softball tournament for many years. He was very interested in making “Truman a great place to call home.” This led Mel to become a Minnesota Jaycee to promote Truman throughout the state, traveling to all parts of Minnesota and making friends at every stop. In 1995 the International Jaycees presented Mel and Marlene with the JCI Senatorship Award which is the highest award that is given out by the Jaycees.

Mel is survived by his wife, Marlene; daughter, Billy (Darin Abel) Kiecker of Fairmont; son, Austin of Garretson, S.D.; stepdaughter Amy (Larry) Mohwinkel of St. James; stepson Mike (Jennifer) Hamelau of New Ulm; two grandchildren, Ethan and Emma; four step-grandchildren, Sarah (Skylar), Derek, Cody and Noah; three step great-grandchildren, Sawyer, Samara and Sylas; sister, Jeanette (Ernie) Karschnik of Forsyth, Mo.; brother, Enos (Charlotte) Breitbarth of Fairmont; sister-in-law, Marie (Mark) Newgard of Brooklyn Park; brother-in-law, Allen Thompson of Lake City, Tenn., as well as many other family members and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to St. Paul’s Lutheran School-Truman, Martin Luther High School or the Truman Fire Department would be appreciated.