Remembering Melvin Cross, a legacy at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair

NOW: Remembering Melvin Cross, a legacy at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair


Remembering a man who brought smiles to everyone’s faces at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, 89-year-old Melvin Cross.

Cross died of natural cases on December 3rd and as barn manager, Cross would sit in this rocking chair, wait for people to come through and start up a conversation.

Pat Hochstedler, his daughter, explained why her father was so impactful during all the Elkhart County 4-H Fairs.

“He just loved being out here and seeing people and reconnecting and just enjoy the fair immensely,” she says. “Last year he was still doing that. And people would look for the man in the rocking chair and that was my dad.”

According to Hochstedler, Cross was involved with the fair as long as she can remember. “He wanted us as kids to be part of the 4-H family. When we were kids, we just lived, ate, breathed the fair.”

Cross’s dream was to keep the 4-h tradition in the family. “We’d come first thing in the morning and we would stay until the fair closed at night,” remembers Hochstedler. “And dad was really good at helping people.”

In the past cross was part of the infrastructure of the fair. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame, was a saddle club leader and president of the fair in 1983.

“We think about, you know, his time here and how he motivated us. I was a 4-H kid, my kids were 4-H members so his legacy lives on as a 4-H program.” says his daughter.

Hochstedler will be the last of her family participating in the fair and although she will miss her two brothers and father… “I think I’m going to miss turning the corner and not seeing dad in the chair.”

She knows that it would be Cross’s dream to have her here at the fair this year. “Of course we miss him terribly, but he had a great life and he loved every minute of it,” Hochstedler tells ABC57.

“We’re going to carry on that tradition. We have the future ahead of us.”

Many people at the fair say they will miss Grandpa Mel and the great stories he would share rocking on his chair.

“He always had a friendly wave, he had a great laugh. Everyone loved to hear his laugh. You could hear it and know that Mel was in the barn,” says Hochstedler.

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