Melba Rowe Bilderback, 99, of St. Louis, MO, died peacefully on March 6, 2018, at her home in Belmont Village Assisted Living in Carol Stream, IL, near Chicago. Born February 21, 1919, she is predeceased by her parents, Ellis R. Rowe and Matilda (Haas) Rowe; her brother Milton R. Rowe; her husband of 40 years, Clyde H. Bilderback; and dear relatives Bryon B. Bilderback, Mary Jane (McWilliams) Bilderback, and Lou Ann (Bilderback) Hubert.
Melba, or “Mel” as she was fondly called, grew up in historic Lafayette Square and graduated from McKinley High School in 1936. In high school she demonstrated a talent for languages, math, art, and music and made lifelong friendships that survived into her 90’s. She was a child of the Great Depression and carried that legacy all her life, which meant she was a saver and the undisputed Queen of Couponing. After high school, she attended business school and worked as a secretary for Shell Oil Co., bookkeeper for her father’s Rooster Oil Co., and secretary to the president of Plaza Bank. She married Clyde Bilderback on May 17, 1941, and they had two daughters in the years after WWII ended.
Melba and Clyde first resided in south St. Louis and later moved to Mehlville in South County. The couple loved to entertain and their home was often lively with the sound of friends having a good time. In the mid-60’s, Melba returned to work at Lemay Bank, now part of Midwest BankCentre, where she formed many dear friendships over 23 years as a member of the Safe Deposit Department. She enjoyed traveling, entertaining, bargain hunting, spending time at the family cabin on Kentucky Lake, and the occasional trip to the casino. Melba was much loved by her many friends and family and appreciated for her warmth, loyalty, sense of fun and adventure, and delightful personality.
Melba is survived by her two daughters, Diann (John Westby) Bilderback of Chicago, IL, and Joann (John) Christian of Lenexa, KS; grandson John Thomas “JT” Christian; dear cousins Marsha Bilderback and Gentry Allen Larkin and family; and many devoted friends and family.
Visitation will be held at the Kutis Funeral Home, Affton Chapel, 10151 Gravois, St. Louis, MO 63123, 314.842.4458, from 3:00-7:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 11. The funeral and memorial service will be held on Monday, March 12, at 11:00 a.m. at the Kutis Affton Chapel. After a luncheon in her honor, burial will follow at Oak Grove Cemetery, 7800 St. Charles Rock Road.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Melba’s honor to the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee, 2023 Lafayette, St. Louis, MO 63104. The family intends to purchase a memorial bench or brick in the park on behalf of Melba, her parents, and her brother.