Joseph Melvin Trower, 1901-1989
Dr. J. Melvin Trower entered the Virginia conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1924. This young man was born in Norfolk, September 3, 1901. He was a graduate of the Norfolk school system, William and Mary College, and Union Theological Seminary in Richmond. Joseph Melvin Trower received his deacon's orders in 1926 and was ordained elder and elected a full member of the conference in 1928. Dr. Trower served the following churches: Westhampton; Colonial Beach; Montross; Heathsville; West Franklin; Hampton Roads; Wesley, Petersburg; Marquis Memorial; South Halifax; Pungoteague; Bishop Memorial; Central, Salem; St. Andrews, Portsmouth; Timberlake, Lynchburg.
Dr. Trower loved the Northern Neck. Early in his ministry he served Colonial Beach, Montross and Heathsville. He served Ebenezer in Westmoreland as a retired supply. With 41 active years and six retired years, Melvin retired. These years were varied and eventful. There is no doubt that he was a man of exceptional ability, a minister of qualitative excellence, good character and moral integrity.
Melvin and his first wife, Mary, made a good ministerial team. She was highly talented in children's work, and she taught classes allover the Virginia conference.
Dr. Trower spent much time and money collecting antiques and valuable relics which he used to decorate their lovely historic home in Leedstown on the Rappahannock River. One night all was lost by a raging fire burning out of control. Undaunted, the Trowers bought a beautiful, spacious brick home at Union Village in their beloved Northern Neck. Here they lived until Mary died.
Later Melvin met and married Mary Ward in 1975. They had 14 good years in a lovely home on Quail Point Road in Virginia Beach. Mary belonged to the Virginia Beach United Methodist Church; and continues to live in her native Tidewater.
In retirement, Melvin resumed work in the Masonic Lodge and went through the Chairs, and became Master of the Westmoreland Lodge A.F.A.M. No. 212.
To sum up the life and ministry of Joseph Melvin Trower, we saw a man who made an unconditional surrender of his life to the service of the Kingdom through the church of Jesus Christ in the Virginia conference. He was an able preacher, well groomed, very articulate in speech and in the written medium, and the possessor of a sparkling wit; and a lively sense of humor. Melvin was always ready to preach at "protracted meetings." These revivals were a source of soul searching; saving of sinners; and a refreshment of the spirit to season members. He was a dedicated and faithful steward of God's unsearchable riches. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God (I Corinthians 4:1).
My wife wrote this poem for him in 1980. We hereby dedicate it to the Village Parson.
The Village Parson
by Claire M. James
This dweller in the village
Is unique as one may find
For his characteristics include
An ever inquiring mind.
He is a lively fellow,
Respects life and all its duty,
In his lodge, ‘mid friends, companions
He always seeks life’s beauty.
While parsons oft’ are noted
For their seriousness, no less,
This one is jester
And tells all jokes with zest.
Yet when one knows this parson
It’s evident God’s call he’s heard,
For he’s fully committed to Jesus
Still preaching from God’s own word!
-Frank D. James