This is a photo of Melvin Daniel Priest (1931-1999) working in his shop in Barton County, Missouri ca. 1990.   The photo is thought to have been taken by his brother, Lou Priest and was in the possession of their sister, Carol Priest Fortey.   Melvin can easily symbolize the working man of the 20th century.  He went to work when he was about seven years of age to help support his abandoned mother and his younger siblings.  He continued to work all of his life.  He was a high welder who worked on skyscrapers throughout the middle of the country; they were called high welders because they worked on the highest scaffolds and under sometimes dangerous conditions.  He raced motorcycles across the country earning a room full of trophies.   He designed a unique trailer hitch.  He was calm, competent, and capable. He loved country music.  He is one of a cadre of phenomenal Americans who never achieved fame, wealth or acclaim.  He, like so many of these 'Forgotten Americans', made the country work.  


Search 113.0 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search: