Courtesy of PRCA
Marty Michael (Chip) Melvin, a nine-time qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo, passed away Oct. 18 in Paradise, Texas, after battling cancer. He was 59.
Melvin, who qualified for the NFR in 1983-89, 1991 and 1996, finished a career-best second in the PRCA world standings in 1985 and was third in 1988. In 1989, he won the average at the National Finals Rodeo with a time of 57.7 seconds on 10 head and placed fifth in the world standings.
“I like to ride, but it takes more out of me,” the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Melvin said in the 1986 PRCA media guide. “My life expectancy in rodeo won’t be as long if I keep riding. Five years down the road, I reckon I’ll slow down to one or two events. Everybody tells me my best event is steer wrestling because of my size.”
Melvin won the Linderman Award in 1983-84. The Linderman Award, named after ProRodeo Hall of Fame cowboy Bill Linderman, recognizes cowboys who perform at both ends of the arena.
“The Linderman Award has been a goal of mine all my life,” Melvin said in a March 16, 1988, article of ProRodeo Sports News. “To me, the true meaning of a cowboy is someone who can work both ends of the arena. No one since Phil Lyne has been spectacular at both ends.”
Melvin earned $762,108 in his PRCA career – $721,887 in steer wrestling, $30,806 in bull riding and $9,414 in bareback riding.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Melvin, joined the PRCA in November 1979 and had success immediately in the Badlands Circuit. He was the all-around champion at the 1979 Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo as well as the bull riding average winner at the rodeo.
Melvin was the Badlands Circuit year-end champion in all-around (1979, 1981-82) and steer wrestling in 1981.
In addition to his NFR qualifications, Melvin won the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days all-around title in 1983. Melvin, 22 at the time, placed seventh in the steer wrestling average for $3,718 and earned $113 in bull riding.
Beyond rodeo, Melvin was hired as a “Marlboro Man” in the 1980s for cigarette ads although he never smoked. Later in life he worked as an actor in a TV series and music videos. Melvin also loved horse racing.
In 1991, Melvin married Judy Painter, who grew up on a ranch near Buffalo, S.D. They ranched near Keller, Texas, before moving near Paradise, Texas, and raising red Angus cattle and prized Quarter Horses bred and trained for rodeo success, all under the M4 brand.
He was inducted into the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Hall of Fame in Fort Pierre, S.D., in 1992.
Melvin lived his life as a Christian who put his faith before his rodeoing. In recent years, he played the part of a Roman soldier in “The Chosen,” a TV film series about the life of Jesus. He acted in other Christian films.
Marty was born on Aug. 24, 1960, in Chamberlain, S.D., to Warren and Donna (Maher) Melvin and shared his birthday with his dad. He grew up in Holabird, S.D., and graduated from Highmore High School in 1978. He grew up playing football, wrestling and rodeoing.
Melvin was born into rodeo. His mom was a trick rider. She met Warren at one of his grandfather’s rodeos. Melvin’s grandfather, Bill Maher, had a rodeo string in the 1940s and ’50s.
Melvin attended South Dakota State University in Brookings on a wrestling scholarship and competed for the rodeo team riding bulls and bareback horses, tie-down roping and steer wrestling. He qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo four times. He earned a bachelor of science degree in geography from SDSU in 1983.
Melvin lived a full life in his 59 years on Earth as a believer, cowboy, horse trainer, rodeo contestant, father, grandfather, son, brother, husband and friend. It was said that he had the unique ability to make everyone feel like he was their best friend, never forgetting the “little guy.”
Melvin was preceded in death by his father Warren and mother Donna. He is survived by wife, Judy; son, Paul; daughters Marilyn and Katlyn; granddaughter, Elizabeth; sister, Michel Melvin and brother, Monte Melvin.