I was born in 1935 in Wisconsin and lived there until I was eighteen when I joined the USMC, serving in the far-east. I returned home and was married before I became twenty-one. Working as a draftsman for an Architect in Appleton for a couple years I decided to attend college at what is now the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, working near full time during school to provide for my wife Rachel and our young family. In August 1959 we left Wisconsin so I could pursue a degree at Iowa State University, (ISU). With a pregnant wife and eighteen month old child we moved to Ames Iowa on borrowed money and without a job. I searched for work before school started and earned a few bucks stuffing teddy bears at Collegiate Manufacturing Company. I soon found more work and had three part time jobs before landing a good job as a draftsman at the Ames Laboratory. We were pretty creative in supporting our family. With four children and my school taking many hours each day, often working in the architectural lab into the wee hours of the morning we had to be creative and conservative. Rachel typed theses for graduate students and was elected the first female, non-student councilwoman in Pammel Court, the married student housing area. It was a "job" that paid $19 per month. (Our children campaigned with signs asking residents to "vote for my mom.") I also became a professional blood donor to supplement our finances, taking in $25 each time I donated. When it snowed I skipped school and shoveled sidewalks to earn extra money. We lived on egg noodles and stewed tomatoes but we were happy and we survived quite well. I graduated from ISU in 1962 with a BS degree in Industrial Administration and Architecture. We then moved to St. Louis Missouri and I began a thirty-four year career at McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, later to become McDonnell Douglas Corporation and now a part of Boeing. During my years at MAC I worked on proposal, funding allocation and implementation of facilities for the Engineering Laboratories, Mercury and Gemini Space Programs, F-4, F-15, AV-8B and F-18 aircraft, Flight Simulation, Manufacturing and many other programs. I had a top secret clearance and managed a facility department for Advanced Programs, (Phantom Works), including the construction of several secure program buildings at St. Louis and on both coasts.
My “hobbies” over the years, in addition to artwork, painting, sculpture, reading, writing and genealogy, included pitching slow pitch softball, where I once threw a “no-hitter.” Since I was a child I've enjoyed fishing, hunting, (many years ago, no longer), and canoeing. After college, when the children were young we traveled in summer, taking exciting trips to Washington, DC, up the coast to New York, Maine, Canada and to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Rachel and I enjoyed the trip of our lifetime, a driving tour of Europe for our twenty-fifth anniversary. I was the president of the North Side Art Association in St. Louis and chairman of several art shows. I have received awards for paintings with acrylics, watercolors, mixed media and sculpture.
In the mid-nineteen seventies I began writing my book, A Grandfather’s Dream of Fair Women. The research on this book had started years earlier and for ten years Rachel accompanied me to the St. Louis Public Library on Monday nights, when the library was open until 9 pm, to review illustrator's work. This was before the internet era and we documented the artist's work on the covers and interiors of thousands of periodicals at the library.
After retirement and our move westward to the lake I joined The Lake of the Ozarks Writers Guild, later became president. I have been a vice president and presently I'm the secretary of the Lake Arts Council. In 2005 I began research for my first book, “Missouri Proud”, the Missouri brag book. The layout, study and experience of Missouri Proud provided knowledge for my later books including A Grandfathers Dream of Fair Women, Seven Orphans - The Nicholas Elmer Family, The Brown Family Chronicle, The Unauthorized Biography of Marion Zimmerman Mellberg Hagensonand The Life and Works of Charles Twelvetrees, artist.
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by Robert Mellberg
Missouri is a Wonderful State! It is a scenic, historic, and entertaining region surrounding the mean population center of a great country.
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