Oliver Roscoe Melton passed away on Sunday at the age of 88. He was a longtime business owner and well-known in the Porterville community. He started Roscoe Melton Discount Tires, located on Olive Avenue across from Black Bear Diner.
Before he opened Roscoe Melton Discount Tires, Melton had already established himself as a successful business man in Porterville. Melton’s son, Rich Melton, explained some of his father’s past and provided an outline for the many businesses his father had worked for or owned during his lifetime.
“His family came out here during the depression in the 1930’s,” said Rich. “My dad was probably six or seven years old. He worked in the fields when he got here and by the time he was 13-years-old he went to work for a guy at a gas station in Poplar. Within a year, he was made the manager. Back then, dad would have $15,000 or $16,000 on him and wouldn’t have seen the owner for two or three weeks. He was scared to death having that kind of money on him, so he went to one of the owner’s friends that had a safe down on Main Street, where he put the money until the owner came back. He was always a hard hard worker, and that probably came from his parents.
“Then he was in the Air Force for a really short stint, probably in ‘51 or ‘52. He had an injury so they gave him an honorable discharge. When he came back he went to L.A. and worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber for three or four years, until he moved back to this area. He went back to work as an assistant manager in Visalia at a Goodyear store, and then, within a few months, they had him come back to a Porterville Goodyear and made him the manager. He did that for maybe four or five years.
“The first business he owned, he opened up Olive Street Shell, across from the auditorium at Porterville High School. He had that service station down there for probably eight or nine years. From there he got off Olive Street and opened up a station right behind the Post Office. The D Street Texaco was what it was called. After a year-and-a-half he sold it to his brother, and built Hula Car Wash on Olive Avenue. He also owned (the) AAA (building) at the time, which he had since the Shell station. He had that for ten years before a guy came and wanted to buy it, so he sold it to him. He then went to Tharp Tire and he was a general manager for them for ten or twelve years. And then we opened Roscoe [Melton’s Discount] Tires, and we were there for like 31 years. We just sold that last year.”
Roscoe Melton Discount Tires has been awarded Business of the Year several times by the Better Business Bureau and has been voted as a community favorite many times through The Recorder’s Reader’s Choice Awards.
“He was a good man,” said Mando Herrera, a long time employee at Roscoe Melton’s Discount Tires. “I worked with him when they opened here, well two years after they opened here, so almost 30 years now. He was good people, fair and honest, just everything. He was always joking around. He was a real happy guy all the time.”
Marcus Melton, Melton’s grandson, said his grandfather is one of the people who influenced him the most and credited much of his success to his grandfather.
“He was the number one person that helped me succeed in life because he had a way of making people laugh,” said Marcus. “First time they would meet him they would feel like they’re friends after talking to him because he had a way of making them laugh when they came in and he would reach them on a personal level. He would always help people. His handshake was good enough, that’s all he needed. The people that knew him knows how funny he was. He would make everyone laugh when he was around. He had one of the best senses of humor. It’s amazing how much he would make them laugh. His sense of humor was really keen.
“His passing will affect the community because he cared so much about the city. He always talked about giving back to the community. He said ‘If you take care of the community, they will take care of you.’ Community was everything. He always helped out with charities and giving back. The number one thing is he was a great dad and grandpa. As far as Porterville goes, he was one of the top businessmen this city has ever had. He has had hundreds and hundreds of employees throughout the years.
“I think he’ll be missed a lot, him not being out there and seeing the people that he loved and built trust with.”
Debbie Lamb, Melton’s daughter, shared one of the favorite memories she has of her dad from when she was little.
“My dad was an avid NASCAR fan,” said Debbie. “He loved NASCAR. When we were growing up, he had a car that he had another man race for him in Bakersfield and here at Rocky Hill. He didn’t really have any hobbies. He didn’t fish, he didn’t hunt. But he loved NASCAR. So as a little girl, I remember Rich and I going to all of these big NASCAR races with my dad. So now, my family and Rich’s family are all NASCAR fans. We have carried on the same things.”
One thing that Rich and Debbie both said is their father was a hard worker.
“My dad never treated somebody like a number,” said Rich. “He would learn their name and call them by their name. He was wonderful.My dad had a fun life, and he was 88-years-old when he passed, so he had a good life. He was always a man of his word. If somebody needed something, he was always there for him.”
“He taught me work ethic, how to be a strong worker, and to be an honest person,” said Debbie.
Rich extended his gratitude to the community for all of the support they have given his family over the years, and said it’s now time for he and his family to grieve over the loss of his father.
“My dad, he was also my best friend,” said Rich. “My dad was always a family dad. He was a strong man, but he was a gentle man. He was hard, but at the same time he was soft.
“Our family really appreciates all the support they have given him over the years, and at this time we would like to be able to grieve for him.”