Emory Melton: Local attorney, senator, historian and newspaperman

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Emory Melton

Emory Melton through the years: 1974, 1957, 1966 and 2015

CASSVILLE – Everyone has a story to tell, but Emory Melton’s would fill several volumes. Yet while he could put such a story in book form — after all, he owns a printing company — he might not have time to tell it. Because even at 92 years old, Emory still has a waiting room full of clients seeking his counsel.

Those people know Emory has spent many years — nearly 70, in fact —  as a lawyer. They likely know he is one of Barry County’s premiere historians, and that he’s been a local newspaperman for decades. They might remember using their vote to help put him in the Missouri Senate.

However, there’s one thing they probably don’t know: Emory’s impressive career stemmed from a childhood wish to be like his dad.

In the beginning

The approximate location of McDowell, Mo.

In 1930, Emory Melton was a 7-year-old boy living in McDowell, Mo., a village located around eight miles east of Purdy. In those days, his father served on the county commission and was elected as its presiding judge.

Seeing his dad in that role convinced Emory that politics was the path for him as well — but while that goal remained constant, it was slightly modified by an encounter with E.N. Meador, publisher of the Cassville Republican.

“I was with my dad, and he was talking to Mr. Meador in the courthouse over here,” booms Emory in trademark voice. “And as was the custom in those days, Mr. Meador was paying some attention to me. And he said, ‘What are you going to be when you grow up?’ And I said, ‘A politician.’

He said, ‘Lawyers usually are politicians.’ So I said, ‘Fine, I’ll be a lawyer.’

“Well, he said, ‘There’s not much in that. What you need is an occupation.’ He said, ‘Lawyers usually are politicians.’ So I said, ‘Fine, I’ll be a lawyer.’

That was all it took.

“And that’s what set me on that course,” says Emory. “Little did he know that that would happen, but that stayed in my mind all these years.”