Mel Cannel 1921-2012

The poet Robert Frost proclaimed, “Good fences good neighbors make”.  But in a time when we’ve taken fence building to extremes, our family was blessed with a neighbor who took them down.

From the time we moved into the Western Heights neighborhood in 1994, Mel Cannel gave meaning to the word “neighbor.” His memorial service on April 27th was testament to this as neighbors, past and present, shared their memories of Mel.  Born of immigrant parents in Arizona, Mel could share the stories of his very humble beginnings in English, Spanish, and even Greek. 

It was through Mel’s service in the Navy during World War II, where he helped transport soldiers to shore in the invasion of Iwa Jima, that Mel met his wife, Alice, at a USO dance
.  She must have swept him off his feet for they soon tied a knot that bound together for 60 plus years.

When Mel returned from his military service he found work with MGM studios where he was affectionately known as “the tin man” because of his work with sheet metal.  Many of our Western Heights homes, including my own, are beneficiaries of Mel’s skills as he both welded and attached our rain gutters.

His little white truck would always be seen driving back forth to one of his favorite hang outs, St. Agnes Catholic Church, as he rounded up food for their food distribution program.  When his health wouldn’t allow him to make the rounds himself we would see various church members coming by the house to borrow the truck in order to continue the distribution; and when they couldn’t do it any more, Mel just gave the truck to the church.  If he was on the front porch, it would be impossible to walk by without his shouting out a warm greeting, accompanied by a smile that went from ear to ear.

Mel left us on Monday, April 23, 2012, at the age of 93, leaving his wife Alice, his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and many neighbors and friends, all much richer for having known him.

Thanks Mel, for being a neighbor who took the fences down.





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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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