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Father’s Day Council Tucson to honor Federation’s Mellan

Nancy and Stuart Mellan and their blended family at their 1992 wedding. (Photo courtesy Nancy Mellan)

The Father’s Day Council Tucson is holding its 25th Annual Fathers of Year Awards Gala next month, and the Jewish Federation’s Stuart Mellan is among the honorees.

Stuart Mellan

Mellan, JFSA president and CEO, is one of seven men who will be celebrated on June 1 for their success in combining career and family. The gala serves a dual purpose: to support family values by honoring exemplary fathers, and to raise money for type 1 diabetes research.

Mellan and his wife, Nancy, have five children, all in their 30s. The two met in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and after both became widowed, started dating. Mellan had two kids; Nancy had three. They were married in 1992, and moved to Tucson in 1995, when Mellan took up his post at the JFSA.

Family and Judaism have always been mainstays of their relationship — Nancy told the AJP some years ago that Mellan had almost cancelled their second date because he and his children had a long-standing plan to lead a Shabbat dinner and service for the residents at a local nursing home. She reminded him that her late husband, Scott, had established the home’s Jewish wing when he was employed by the nursing home; that evening, Nancy and her kids helped Stuart and his kids lead the dinner and service at the
nursing home.

“Together, Stu and I have braved the adventure of this blended family, including daily routines times five, Shabbat and holiday tables that rival the look of a stretch limo, and the stumbles and celebrations of what it takes for five kids and two parents to grow up,” Nancy says, adding that the couple has tried to put all of this into context “with the use of one word: ‘abundance.’

“Stu’s calm demeanor, his strong value of truly listening to others, his sensitivity to inclusion, fairness and empowering others to voice their truths have all been visible in his work in the community and have been foundational in our family,” she continues. “There is a Jewish quote stating the father’s obligation to show his children how to swim. Stu has shown his children and so many in our community just how to swim, with love and perseverance, the currents and tides in this sea of life.”

“I could tell from the time I was a kid,” says Jamie Mellan, 38, “that my dad was different than a lot of my friends’ dads in that he seemed more interested in playing with us, and he was more sensitive.

“He put up with a lot raising five kids,” adds Jamie, who works as a nanny
in Tucson.

Her father is “extremely kind and compassionate. He genuinely cares about people. I thinks he makes just about everybody feel comfortable because he’s really who he is, and doesn’t put on a lot of pretenses,” says Jamie, describing qualities that make Mellan both an “incredible dad” and a successful
Federation leader.

The Mellans have two other children living in Tucson, Eric Mellan, an insurance agent, and Micah Etter, a doctor. Jonah Etter is a teacher in Spokane, Washington, while the youngest child, Suki-Rose Simakis, works in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. The Mellans also have two grandchildren, ages 7 and 10.

Federation leaders are pleased to see Mellan celebrated in the wider community.

“This well-deserved honor Stuart has received from the Father’s Day Council provides an opportunity for our Jewish community to show our gratitude for the profound leadership Stuart has provided to us for nearly a quarter of a century and for his mentoring not only of his own children, but of ours as well.  I hope each of us will help to make this recognition even more meaningful for Stuart and Nancy by supporting the event,” says Deborah Oseran, JFSA board chair.

Stuart cites his own father, the late Judge Eli Mellan, as an inspiration, particularly in modeling a strong commitment to community work.

Steve Rosenberg, publisher of BizTucson magazine, who created Father’s Day Council Tucson in 1994, was similarly inspired by his father, the late Howard Rosenberg, who served as chair of the Father’s Day Council Los Angeles in the 1980s and expanded the annual Fathers of the Year awards gala across the country. Since its inception, Father’s Day Council Tucson has raised about $3.7 million to support type 1 diabetes research and programs at the Steele Children’s Research Center at the University of Arizona. In 2008, the Father’s Day Council Tucson Endowed Chair in Type 1 Diabetes was established.

The Father’s Day Council Tucson is unique in donating its money locally, notes Dr. Fayez K. Ghishan, director of the Steele Center and physician-in-chief at Diamond Children’s Medical Center. Other cities that hold galas raise funds for the American Diabetes Association.

For more information about the gala, visit www.fdctucson.org.

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