Melvin M. (Mel) Gradert was born January 31, 1929, in Newton, Kansas, at the then Axtell Hospital. He was the son of John F. Gradert and Georgia (Jorja) (porter) Gradert. He attended Newton schools through the Seventh Grade. One notable event which nearly ended his life occurred when he was ten years old. While walking from Cooper school he was run over by a Santa Fe Freight Train at the Broadway and Walnut Street crossing, but miraculously escaped with minor injuries, having fallen between the rails unconscious until the train had passed.
When his family moved to Wichita, he attended Marshall Intermediate and graduated North High School in 1947. He attended and graduated from Wichita University, and upon graduation entered the United States Air Force where he served during the Korean war. In 1956 he entered Washburn University Law School, graduating in February 1959. He was selected as Law Clerk for then United States District Judge, later 10th Circuit Judge, Dehnas Hill. He then became an assistant County Attorney in Wichita serving under Keith Sanborn, then County Attorney. Following a year as a Sedgwick County Prosecutor he was appointed Assistant United States Attorney by Robert Kennedy, serving in the Wichita Office. He later was appointed a Special Attorney General Under Robert Londerholm. He later served as Counsel to the Garvey Companies. In 1970 he returned to Newton and joined the Speir, Stroberg & Sizemore Firm. In 1975 he was asked and accepted appointment as County Counselor and County Administrator for Harvey County which position, he held until 1980 when he was appointed District Judge for the Eighth Judicial District by Governor John Carlin. This required a move to Marion County, and he traveled the district which consisted of Marion, Morris, Dickinson, and Geary Counties. After Retirement he was appointed as Senior Judge where he served until 2005. He continued to hear cases as retired judge when assigned.
He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife Janice (pierce) Gradert, son, Steven K. (DeAnn) Gradert, of Wichita, daughter, Kimberly A. Miller, San Bernardino Cal., Grandchildren; Jessica (Mike) Zacharias, and Lauren (Grant) Langhofer, and Mitchell (Katie) Gradert and Alesia and Simeon Miller. Great Grandchildren Ella, Mia Zacharias, and Fiona, Louisa Langhofer. Stepchildren; Jackie (Mike) Sigwing of Wichita, Ed (Linda) Robinson of Florence, Kevin (Janet) Robinson of Florence, and Step Grandchildren, Kelly (David) Seume of Kansas City, Jeremy (Katlyn) Robinson of Newton, KayCee (Isaac) Hett of Marion, and Krisde (Tervor) Kruse of Marion and Step Great Grandchildren, Hayden, Hallie Heidi, Henri Seume, and Kolten, Jaylee, Kenzi, Jentry Robinson. Sister Bonita (Gradert) Jarvis, of Grove, Ok, and. a host of Porter family Cousins.
His philosophy as a Judge was that there were three things needed to do a good job as a judge, and that was patience, and patience, and patience.,. Those who practiced before him appreciated his willingness to listen. He enjoyed his work and family and laughter. One of his philosophies was to not take himself too. seriously, and he was always quick with a joke to ease tensions when necessary. He was an avid but not particularly good golfer. He was Member of Masonic Lodge 142, Newton, past member of Midian Shrine, member and Past Commander, Hillsboro Post 366, and member of American Legion Post 2 "Newton. and a member and past Exalted Ruler of Newton Lodge 706, of The BPOE Newton.
Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 13, 2022, at the Breezy Lake Clubhouse: 12219 W. Sheriac, Wichita, KS. Donations my be made in Melvin's name to Caring Hands Animal Shelter or Wags and Wiggles. Yazel Megli Funeral Home of Marion, KS is serving the family. Please sign his online guestbook and leave a memory of Mel at yazelmeglifh.com.