Long time Masland employee dies

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Melvin Dortch was a gentle giant.



Dortch, 60, of Atmore, died on Jan. 8, at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla.

Dortch had working stints as a driver for The Atmore Advance; Dickinson’s Furniture; and at Masland Carpets for more than 21 years.

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Sara Skelton, human resource manager at Masland Carpets, said Dortch started working at the facility in 1995.

“He was just a very nice man,” Skelton said. “We were all fond of Melvin. He was a strong, religious man. He was a Godly man. He was a quiet, self-sustained man.”

Dortch worked on the carpet company’s finishing line, specifically as a baler operator on the final inspection roll up.

Good friend and co-worker Michael Jackson said he’ll miss the one-on-one conversations he had with Dortch.

“I’ll miss just the one-on-one talk him and I would have concerning life issues,” he said.

Jackson said Dortch played on the Escambia County High School football team that won the state championship in 1975. He was an offensive tackle, Jackson recalled.

Speaking of football, Jackson, an Auburn fan, said they didn’t talk much about the sport as Dortch was an avid Alabama fan.

“That’s one thing him and I never really discussed,” he quipped.

While working for The Atmore Advance, Dortch would drive to Andalusia some three times a week to pick up the week’s papers at the Andalusia Star-News.

Dortch met his wife, Jacqueline who was an inserter, at the paper.

After they were married, the couple adopted eight children from Dortch’s sister, who died of cancer. Their story was featured in American Profile, an insert that was published in The Press-Register.

Jacqueline, fighting back tears, said Dortch was her rock.

“Yes, he was real strong and at first he said he knew we couldn’t take all the kids,” she said. “I told him, ‘this is your flesh and blood one way or the other. You have to step out on faith, trust and do it.’ That’s what we did.

“It was hard at first, but we got a little help,” she said. “The cancer society helped us out a lot. Trinity Episcopal Church and other churches helped us out a lot.”

Jacqueline said all of their children have graduated and have plenty of grandkids.

Masland Carpets Finishing Line Manager Robert Edwards said Dortch had a tremendous sense of humor.

“He was always joking and had something going on with somebody as an inside joke,” Edwards said. “He made it the best, and even while you’re at work, he would make the time go by by making you forget you were at work.

“He was on many occasions, between him and his wife, they were always bringing food in for the guys on the production line,” he said.

Edwards said Dortch organized Thanksgiving and Christmas parties and had a nack for drawing.

A fun memory that Edwards said he’ll take with him of Dortch was his use of a fake cigarette at work.

“When you blew on it, the end of it would blow like it was lit,” he said. “We have a no smoking policy in the plant, and he would catch people of importance and pull that thing out and pop it in to draw a reaction. He always had something to keep you on your toes.”