Melva Gay Wade Hahl was born on January 26, 1934, in Laurel, Mississippi, to Luther Lawrence Wade and Alberta (Dixie) Cronin Wade. Her father and youngest brother died when Mel was 5; after that, she went to live at the Methodist Orphanage in Jackson, where she stayed until she was 16 years old. While attending Central High School, Mel joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on March 4, 1951. After high school, she attended Turo School of Nursing in New Orleans and received her RN degree. Mel spent many years practicing nursing. She was always willing to use her skills. She especially loved going to Girl's Camp as the camp nurse and aiding in an emergency or bandaging skinned knees and broken hearts.
Mel met Daniel Charles Hahl at a dance while he was stationed with the Army in Mississippi. Although her mother highly objected to her daughter marrying a "Damn Yankee," Mel and Dan were sealed on March 5, 1958, in the Los Angeles Temple. The little family moved to Utah so Dan could finish his education at the University of Utah. Four daughters blessed this marriage: Kristy Lynn, Colleen, Charlotte, and Nancy.
In 1966, Dan was transferred to Houston, Texas. Kristy had open-heart surgery, and the family welcomed a son, Larry. Mel was called to teach early morning seminary and instilled her love of the scriptures with the youth of the Maplewood Wards. The many callings she held in the Young Women, Relief Society, and Primary allowed her to develop an understanding of Christ-like love and service. Mel made sure that everyone she met knew that she loved them, and the Lord loved them. She served in every calling with all her heart, might, mind, and strength.
After 12 years in Houston, Kristy left for college in Rexburg, and the family transferred to Vienna, Virginia. While in the Vienna Ward, Mel was able to work in Young Women's and was able to attend Girl's Camp as the director instead of the nurse. She continued some of the spiritual traditions and experiences from the girl's camp in Houston. Dan and Mel spent many hours in the Washington DC temple. They loved sharing their testimony with the many people they met while living near the nation's Capital.
A transfer to upstate New York allowed Mel to start an early morning seminary class for the first time in the stake. It was a challenge, but the blessings for the students and the ward were soon evident.
Mel was also able to move into her dream home. The rest of the family thought she was off her rocker when they toured the 1804 Federal-style home that had been a haven for rabbits and cats and had been sub-divided into small apartments. Nevertheless, she created a home that was warm and inviting. Mel established generous friends in every city the family moved to, but the friends she made in New York continued to get together, even when Mel could not remember their names.
In 1988, Dan retired from the USGS. Dan and Mel took a leap of faith and purchased R. Spencer Pratt's Fudge Factory. This new phase brought many wonderful and surprising gifts to Dan and Mel. The business expanded from part-time seasonal to a thriving, year-round enterprise. They added 18 varieties of fudge and established a vast mail-order holiday business. Mel created window displays that helped make the shop feel inviting and warm. This was the first time Mel and Dan worked side by side 24 hours a day, six days a week, and worshipped together on Sunday. This could have been a recipe for disaster, but Dan and Mel laughed their way through most of the challenges. Early trials in their marriage and a complete commitment to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ made this time sanctifying and precious. When the Nauvoo Chamber of Commerce came to the shop and requested that the shop stay open on Sunday, Mel emphatically said that the Fudge Factory would never open on Sunday.
Mel was proactive with the business owners on Main Street, and her positive influence caused the mayor to appoint her to the Nauvoo Economic Development Committee; she was on the library board and organized civic events that grew larger every year. One of her pet projects was supporting a Teddy Bear Tea Party and helping to organize a Pumpkin Walk held once a year. This was the thing that Mel loved—an opportunity to gather families and friends who would not necessarily spend an afternoon together. Mel loved visits with the nuns at the priory, and she made some very close friends with a few of them.
After selling the Fudge Factory in 1998, Dan and Mel continued to have many callings that kept them traveling throughout the Nauvoo Stake and through the Illinois Peoria Mission. Mel was in the Stake Relief Society Presidency in Nauvoo, Illinois, for 14 years. Their church service put them front and center at the sesquicentennial celebration when the Saints left Nauvoo. Mel participated in the preparation, but she had to have bypass surgery a few months before the event. She had to hold a thick blanket over her chest to keep her incision from hurting in the sub-zero temperatures. (-12 degrees for the celebration, the same conditions when the Saints left Nauvoo originally.)
The Prophet announced the Nauvoo temple restoration, and Nauvoo became an exciting place. It was a tender experience to witness Mel rally through her calling in the Stake Relief Society Presidency despite continuing health problems. When Dan was called to be a counselor in the Temple Presidency, and Mel was called to be an Assistant Temple Matron, she accepted readily. She prayed that Heavenly Father would help her be healthy enough to serve in the time-consuming and demanding calling. She was able to complete her calling without missing a day of work. Mel was asked to speak during one temple dedication session. Before this experience, Mel had never been able to teach a class or give a talk without spending the morning retching. This was the only talk Mel gave without being ill before.
Years before, as Dan was called to be in the Stake Presidency, Elder Pinnock told Dan and Mel that they were serving a mission in Nauvoo and would have callings that the Lord needed them to fulfill. The time came when Dan felt that their Nauvoo time was ending. Dan decided that Nauvoo was too far from family, so Dan and Mel moved to Ivins, Utah. Mel was soon diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Mel's memories faded, but her strong personality and character showed through the haze. She went to bed most nights, worried that there was someone she was supposed to be helping. She was so concerned that she had forgotten someone. But, every night Dan and Nancy, sometimes many times would assure her that everything was completely taken care of and the rest of it could be done in the morning when it was light. Most nights that was enough to relieve her mind, and peace settled on her face and allowed her to sleep. Melva spent the last five years of her life happy and peaceful, and she was a delight.
Melva is survived by her best friend and husband, Daniel, her children Kristy (JC) Marshall, Colleen Hall, Charlotte Hurley, Nancy Varney, Larry (Teresa) Hahl, 38 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her brothers, Theodore and Cardell, and her beloved granddaughter Jan Marie Cooke.
Funeral services will be held on June 1, 2022 at the LDS chapel located at 625 E. Center Street, Ivins, Utah. The viewing will be at 10:00 - 10:45 AM followed by the funeral service at 11:00 AM. Interment will be held at the Ivins City Cemetery following the service.