Ray Melton, 1937–2016

Ray Melton showed up as a substitute cook in 1976. Only two dinners later, he was asked to stay on permanently, and became the “Chef Extraordinaire” at Omicron Zeta for more than two decades.

His culinary experiments were not always successful, but Ray had his crowd-pleasers: disco cake, egg McMeltons, his famous brunches. He would sometimes stay late to regale brothers with stories from the older generations; he would stay all night long, in a more serious mood, to prepare the Homecoming banquet. There was a never a day the brothers missed a meal, and he never asked for more than his birthday off every year.

Ray was far more than an employee. He was a fixture of chapter life: part housefather, part alumni secretary, part community liaison. In any gathering of Omicrons from the last quarter of the 20th century, someone will have a favorite Ray story to tell; others will remember not any one story, but hours of sitting in the kitchen chatting with him on every topic under the sun.

Ray retired after the spring 1999 semester, and his retirement dinner— attended by 150 brothers from as far away as Bangkok— was the largest alumni event since the chapter's semi-centennial. He lived a quiet life in retirement with his wife Lillie, spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and entertaining the occasional alumnus visiting for Homecoming or Reunion. He passed away on July 2, 2016, only a few weeks after making a final visit to the house he loved, and which loved him wholeheartedly in return.

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