Philanthropist David Bigelow Melville, son of Ward and Dorothy Melville, dies at...

Philanthropist David Bigelow Melville, son of Ward and Dorothy Melville, dies at 97

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David Bigelow Melville

Submitted by Carswell Berlin

David Bigelow Melville, 97, died at his home in Fort Pierce, Florida on June 22, attended by friends. The cause of death was not given.

Mr. Melville was the son of the late Ward and Dorothy Melville of New York City and Setauket, New York.  He was born December 18, 1925 in Brooklyn and was predeceased by his three older siblings: Margaret Blackwell, Ruth Berlin and Frank Melville.

Mr. Melville grew up in Setauket and attended Philips Exeter Academy and was graduated from the Pomfret School in Pomfret Connecticut, class of 1944. He went directly to the New York State Maritime Academy at Fort Schuyler (now part of the State University of New York), served on tankers in the North Atlantic and subsequently served in the US Navy.

In 1951, he was working in California for Thom McAn, a division of Melville Shoe Corporation, a company founded by his grandfather, Frank Melville, Jr., when he met and married Mary E. Bale, a recent graduate of Scripps College. They were divorced in 1966. Mr. Melville subsequently married the late Betty Jane Dean (nee Goss) of Weston Mass., and lived in Weston for much of his marriage. The couple was divorced in the early 1980s.

It was during this time that Mr. Melville established the David B. Melville Foundation and founded Toah Nipi, a spiritual retreat and ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Rindge, New Hampshire. He also became an important donor to the Stony Brook School in Stony Brook, NY., a Christian preparatory school, and served on its Board of Trustees from 1981-1999.

Mr. Melville began to accumulate property on Rum Cay in the Bahamas in the late 1970s and in 1981, opened the Rum Cay Dive Club, a scuba diving club at Monroe Beach on Rum Cay which he ran for eight years. Finding the island’s limited transportation options impeded the growth of business, he eventually sold the resort and moved back to Weston and finally, in 2009, to Fort Pierce, Florida. During his years on Rum Cay, he became a significant supporter of Scripture Union, a global, evangelical organization originally founded to introduce children to the bible, an association that continued for the rest of his life.

In Fort Pierce, Mr. Melville co-founded Ocean Grown, a firm making organic, mineral-rich fertilizer for agricultural, animal feed, landscaping, hydroponic and the home & garden industries. During this time, Mr. Melville oriented his philanthropy to the New Hope Vocational Technical Institute, a division of Bringing Hope to the Family (BHTF), serving orphans and vulnerable children in Butiiti, Uganda, and was an active and generous member of the Northside Worship Center in Fort Pierce where a memorial service was held for him on July 4th.

David was an avid equestrian and tennis player most of his life. He loved the sea and the many places he visited during his time in the Merchant Marines and Navy. He was a historian and a student of government. He maintained a large library of books on these subjects.

He is survived by his niece and nephews: Stephen, Lanning, Gregory and Cameron Melville and Carswell and Meg Berlin.

A funeral and burial service will be held for David at the Caroline Episcopal Church, 1 Dyke Road, Setauket, on Tuesday, July 18 at 11 a.m. Donations in David’s memory may be made to the Caroline Church.