A very fitting member entered the Braham Hall of Fame this spring when Ed Melcher had his plaque added to the wall at Braham High. In his retirement from full-time teaching, he remains connected with the school by serving as a substitute teacher and golf coach, and he has a long history of community service outside the school.
On the nomination form submitted by a group of friends, it was noted, “When people think of Ed Melcher, they think of words such as ‘Steady Eddie,’ ‘A Rock,’…‘Hard Worker,’ ‘A Wonderful Friend,’ and ‘A Great Colleague.’”
“Obviously, this is not an award you set out to achieve. To be honest, it was stressful, but once it (the ceremony) was over, it’s really nice to be put in that class,” spoke Melcher during a recent sit-down at Star 95 Car Wash in Cambridge, which he co-owns with three fellow Braham-ites. “At the induction at the Braham Activities Banquet, I didn’t really give a speech. It was more the memories, and the people that I had around me. You don’t get this award by yourself. I had many good coaches and all the athletes I’ve worked with. My wife, Linda, was and is always so supportive. I’ve worked with many good teachers and the good people in Braham.
“It’s humbling, to say the least, to be placed at that level.”
Melcher is in 39th year of service to Braham, most spent teaching Phy Ed and Health at the high school. He also established the Elementary Phy Ed program back in 1973.
Football was Melcher’s main game, starting with his time as a fullback and linebacker in Neligh, Nebraska and playing two-way at Dakota Wesleyan University in South Dakota. He began coaching in Braham in 1973, and served as head football coach from 1974-1997.
One of the proudest moments in Bomber sports history came in the autumn of 1995 when the strong football squad finally broke through to earn a State berth. The Bombers won that first State game on a bitterly cold November Friday night in LeCenter to reach the semifinals at the Metrodome.
“Since we turned the corner in the Great River in the early 1990s, football has been good at Braham High School. Before that in the Rum River, we had quality kids, but we just didn’t have the numbers of the larger schools. We would probably have been more successful had we been in the east-side conference with Taylors Falls, Pine City and other smaller schools that was around in the 1970s and early 1980s,” said Melcher. “It’s been good that each head coach that’s come along since me has had success– first Eric Graham, then Terry Bodeen and now Shawn Kuhnke. They’ve all had success, and they’ve all worked very hard. It was great following the Bombers when they made State again last fall.”
Melcher has been a long-time golfer, teaming with Ron Grundyson for Purple Hawk Men’s League competition for 25 to 30 years. He brought his love of that game to helping coach golf at Braham the last 10 years– the past two years ending at the State golf tourney when Caitlin Richmond qualified both seasons.
“I enjoy that task, too. We’ve got some young players coming up who will be exciting to follow the next few springs, including a nice group of boys. We’re going to try to get Caitlin down to the low to mid 80s so she’s got a shot at going deeper at State, and I think she’s got a shot at that,” he projected. “The end of the season got a little hectic because I’ve got a traditional fishing trip to Canada I take with Ron Lykins and the rest of the guys– 400 miles north of Winnipeg. There’s a chance for big northerns up there.”
I learned a ton from Ed as a student and athlete at Braham, including getting a first-ever exposure to tennis. One of my personal-favorite Ed Melcher stories came my junior year at Braham. I lost my driver’s license that summer and didn’t go out for football because I didn’t want to beg for rides home from practice. That fall, I was in Ed’s elective PE course where we were playing flag football. On one play, I was leading Craig Bestick on a sweep and made a perfect hip-takedown block on Paula Holmgren which allowed Craig to score. But Ed flagged me on the play and said, “If you want to block like that, Hunt, get your butt back out for football.”
I followed his advice and did go back out my senior year. Our team put together many memories as we finished just shy of State in a tight 7-6 loss to Sauk Rapids in the final Rum River game. Thanks to Ed’s commitment over the years, many Braham kids have racked up stacks of memories of their own.
Ed Melcher’s resume at Braham
Phy Ed, Health and CPR teacher– 36 years
• Co-Athletic Director– 2 years
• Still serving as substitute teacher
Varsity Football head coach– 22 years, Asst. Coach– 3 years
• Varsity Girls Basketball Coach– 4 years, Asst. girls coach– 2 years
• Assistant Boys Basketball Coach– 13 years, 9th grade coach– 3 years
• Assistant Wrestling Coach– 4 years
• Varsity Boys & Girls Golf Coach– 2 years, Asst. golf coach– 10 years
• Assistant Track Coach– 4 years
Braham Firefighter– 25 years
• Pie Day volunteer
• B.A.C.K. Golf Tournament Committee member
• Church Council member and chair person– Braham Evangelical Lutheran
• Member of Church Building Committee