Thomas J. Melody brought wisdom, humor and top-notch storytelling skills to the Akron Beacon Journal newsroom for 42 years.
Melody served as a reporter, columnist and sports editor before retiring in 2000. His knowledge and views on baseball, basketball, football and other sports were respected, and his beats included covering the University of Akron and the Browns.
Melody died on Friday, March 15, at age 81. He was born on June 10, 1937, in Cumberland, Maryland, to the late Joe and Bertha Melody.
Melody lived in Wadsworth in recent years with his wife of 61 years, Sharon. The couple also previously lived in Akron and Norton with their five children.
“It was always a balancing act with our philosophy of coverage from the high schools to Akron, Kent and Ohio State to the Browns, the Cavaliers, the Indians, and we had the pro hockey team for a while too,” said Larry Pantages, a former writer and sports editor who worked at the Beacon Journal from 1972-2015.
“So, it was a question of putting our resources on what we thought were the best stories, and Tom was always involved with the stories that people wanted to read as a sports reporter, editor and a columnist.”
Pantages described Melody as “a great guy” and a “very devoted family man.”
Former Indians beat writer Sheldon Ocker, who worked at the Beacon Journal from 1967-2014, recalled Melody being “meticulous” when it came to writing stories and headlines.
“Tom was a really good editor and a really good writer,” Ocker said. “The Browns used to hate him because he had a little sarcasm in his stories and they didn’t like that. The Browns were kind of used to not being criticized for anything. ... Tom wrote interesting stories and he had certain phrases that he would use, one of which I stole. Whenever he didn’t like something with the front office, he would call them the ‘deep thinkers.’ ”
Melody covered multiple Super Bowls, Olympics and other professional sporting events. Pantages said he covered the 1984 Olympics with Melody in Los Angeles.
“We were a team in Los Angeles covering the local athletes and the big stories,” Pantages said. “He had a good sense of what Akron readers needed to know and wanted to know, and he wrote in a style that entertained people as well as took them behind the scenes of the big events.”
Melody’s career also included covering the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
“Tom hired me,” said former Browns beat writer Ray Yannucci, who wrote for the newspaper from 1969-1981. “At that time, the Beacon Journal was considered one of the finest papers in the country and had an outstanding sports department headed by Tom.”
Yannucci lauded Melody for being a “very mellow and very kind person.”
Melody was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and enjoyed fly-fishing, gardening and reading. He served with the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, Project Healing Waters, St. Vincent DePaul Society and as a Eucharistic Minister.
“Tom was a columnist when I got there, and I worked with him on golf at Firestone Country Club and a bunch of other sports,” said former high school sports and UA athletics beat writer Tom Gaffney, who wrote for the Beacon Journal from 1986-2012.
“Tom was a gentleman and a journalist. He was classy all the way and great to work with. He was very easy to work with and very knowledgeable. When he criticized, you knew it wasn’t any vendetta. He really thought he was being constructive and helpful to the team and the fans. When he was columnist, I noticed that he was not afraid to critique and find fault and find good, too.”
Melody was preceded in death by brothers Bob and Mike and sister Janet Groves.
He is survived by his wife, Sharon; children, Joe of Lexington, Kentucky, Chris (Wendy) of Kingsland, Georgia, Kathie (Jeff) Priest of Wadsworth, Matthew (Theresa) of Cincinnati and Mary (Rob) Yeiser of Verona, Wisconsin; 17 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; sister, Joanne (Buddy) Miller of Webster Springs, West Virginia; brother-in-law Norman Groves and sisters-in-law Trina Melody and Judy Melody, all of Keyser, West Virginia, and Barbara Tenney of Fort Ashby, West Virginia; as well as many nieces and nephews.
Melody’s family will receive friends from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, at the Hilliard-Rospert Funeral Home, 174 N. Lyman St., Wadsworth. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 20, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Wadsworth, 272 Broad St., Wadsworth.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com.