LIMA — “On my Honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and country and to obey the Scout law: To help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Boy Scouts have learned that oath for decades, and many young men in Allen, Putnam and Hardin counties learned the words directly from Melvin Parsons, who spent half a century in various leadership roles for the Boy Scouts of America.
For that service, in addition to his volunteer efforts for the American Legion and V.F.W. posts in Spencerville, the United Way and Goodwill Industries, Parsons was named a winner of a 2020 Jefferson Award for community service.
Parsons, of rural Spencerville, got involved in scouting “around 1967, when my own boys were in Scouts. They got me working with the committee, and then I took over as Scout Master for Troop 176 for 15 years,” Parsons said last week. “in 1985 I became a unit commissioner, working with four troops and four Cub Scout packs, and did that until 2005, when I became a district commissioner.”
Through it all, Parsons ushered not only his sons but also his grandsons and great-grandsons into the world of scouting. He remains involved with the Great Oaks district of the Black Swamp Council of Boy Scouts to this day.
“They just won’t release me,” Parsons said with a laugh.
“Melvin always brings a positive attitude and is a very funny guy to have around,” said Sydni Wonkler, executive director of the Great Oaks Scout District.
Parsons’ lifetime of service to his community began immediately following his active duty in the United States Army. The Korean War veteran joined the Army National Guard and served that organization for 22 years, during which time he began volunteering with his church youth group and other organizations. He also became active in local veterans’ organizations.
At American Legion Post 191 in Spencerville, Parsons still serves as the post’s Child Welfare Officer, overseeing the annual administration of the Americanism and Government Tests and helping get boys signed up for Buckeye Boys State, where they learn how local and state governments function.
At Spencerville V.F.W. Post 6772, he is a member of the post’s clown unit, which makes monthly visits to area nursing homes and annual trips to the VA Hospital in Dayton. Parsons also is a member of the Spencerville Honor Guard — comprised jointly of Legion and VFW members — that perform ceremonies at military funerals.
In 2018 he was selected as one of the United Way 100 Community chairpersons and works as needed at the Goodwill food pantry or other functions. He now plans to slow down.
“I figure that since my wife is recently deceased, I need something to do. I’m not an idle person. I like to stay busy,” Parsons said.
One of his great joys is being around some longtime friends he made through scouting.
“I still have a lot of good friends from scouting. On the first Wednesday of each month, we have a ‘Good Old Boys’ breakfast to see who tells the biggest stories.”
As a new Jefferson Award winner, Parsons could take the prize at next month’s get-together. Chances are he’ll do it humbly … just the way he lives his life.