Melvin Lee Jolly

May 20, 1942 ~ October 18, 2023 (age 81) 81 Years Old


Melvin L. Jolly (Captain, USAF, Ret’d) passed away at home Wednesday morning, October 18, 2023, at the age of 81. Mel was born and raised in Muncie, Indiana. Following completion of a BS degree in American History from Ball State University, he began a military career that included two tours of Vietnam service. During his 20 years of active duty in the Air Force he served as a Flight Navigator, Executive Officer, and Squadron Commander, receiving, among other recognitions, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

While stationed in California, Melvin earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Golden Gate University. Following military retirement, he relocated to Michigan, where he earned a Master’s Degree in the Art of Teaching History and Social Studies from Wayne State University, while at the same time teaching an academically-based Air Force Junior ROTC Program in the Detroit Public School System. Continuing to wear the United States Air Force Uniform for an additional 17 years, the AFJROTC Unit under his command was repeatedly recognized for its outstanding community support program, the cadet leadership it provided to the school itself, and the role it played in improvement to the quality of education in the high school. During this tenure, Melvin also taught Political Science part-time on the college level, and completed two summers of intensive summer School study at Brown University.

Mel’s military years took him to many areas around the world, but once he left active duty, he was anxious to explore this side of the Atlantic. Summers often were spent in travel, with Mel driving and his wife Karen mapping out directions for the extended trips. Traveling invariably involved stops at military bases, but the extensive journeys took them to not just about every state, but also nearly every Canadian province. Perhaps the most memorable trips to Mel were the almost two months spent in Alaska, the trip to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, and the nearly month-long exploration of Newfoundland.

Relocating full-time to Westerly, Rhode Island, in 2005, Melvin became active within the community. He was a lifetime member of the VFW, as well as a lifetime member of The American Legion, where he served as Commander of Post #16 in Westerly for eight years. As a member of the Westerly-Pawcatuck YMCA, he served on the Board of Managers for nine years, and was Chairman of the Membership and Program Committee. He also volunteered as a tour guide for the Y facilities, assisted YMCA youth with their basketball skills, and coached Youth Basketball Teams for 3rd/4th Graders and 5th/6th Graders. He was a member of the Westerly Yacht Club, Weekapaug Golf Club, and Westerly Elks. Mel and Karen were avid theater-goers, frequenting countless venues every year, and for ten years, Mel volunteered at the Granite Theatre to build stage sets for the productions by the Renaissance City Theatre Inc.

The 35 years Mel and Karen spent together truly were ones to be treasured. Mel also is survived by his step-daughter Michelle Worosz and her family in Auburn, Alabama; as well as his sister-in-law Lynn Ruehlmann, her husband William, niece Martha Ruehlmann and nephew Benjamin Ruehlmann, all of Norfolk Virginia.

To those who knew Mel, please remember him and celebrate his life in your own way. In lieu of flowers, he would be honored if donations to charities of your choice were considered.

Funeral service will be held on Thursday October 26, 2023 at 11:00 AM at the Buckler-Johnson Funeral Home, 121 Main St. Westerly, RI. A private burial with full military honors will be in River Bend Cemetery, Beach St. Westerly, RI.


October 26, 2023

11:00 AM
Buckler-Johnston Funeral Home
121 Main St.
Westerly, RI 02891


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