Melvin David Sloan, age 82, passed away on Sunday, February 26, 2023.
He was born March 27, 1940, in a two-room log cabin with no conveniences in the Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Wilson County, TN. He was the youngest of six children.
He is preceded in death by his parents Robert Earl and Leona Adams Sloan, brother Marcus Sloan, brother Ralph Sloan, sister Joyce Sloan Smithwick and his beloved wife Beverly Padgett.
His surviving siblings are Nelda Sloan Garrett and Robbie Sloan Lea.
Melvin and Beverly eloped to Corinth, MS, on July 27, 1957. He was underage, but his father gave his permission which the Justice of the Peace accepted. He had just completed his junior year in high school and attended his senior year as a married man. Beverly, who graduated the prior year, signed his report cards Mrs. Melvin Sloan. They were married for 61 years at her death in 2018. They had 2 children, David Sloan (Rhonda) and Susan Sloan, 3 grandchildren, Cody Lannom (Maegen), David Sloan II (Courtney) and Elizabeth Sloan Buck (Ben), 1 great-grandchild, Sloane Buck, 2 step-grandchildren, Brandon (Torrie) and Christie (David) and 4 step-great-grandchildren, Brooke, Sadie, Anna and Michael.
He spent his childhood farming and included milk cows. His entire family were musicians and singers, mostly self-taught. He grew up listening to the fiddle music coming from the Cedar Forest weekend square dances. He attended Hurricane Baptist Church and started singing at age 3 with his mother accompanying him on piano.
At age 9, he became the children’s choir leader and the congregation choir leader at age 13. At age 11, they moved to Chicken Road where they had electricity for the first time. The family bought their first radio when he was 12, and he heard the Grand Ole Opry for the first time. He attended Major School and graduated Lebanon High School in 1958. He played trombone in the LHS band and sang in the chorus.
He had a string band in his early teens that played on the Junior Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and won numerous talent contests across Middle Tennessee. At age 21, he organized his own band and performed throughout the Southeast and often played backup for many country music stars. He later formed a gospel quartet, the Kingdom Heirs, and had other bands throughout his life as well.
After the death of his brother Ralph in 1980, Melvin continued his brother’s legacy of square dancing on the Grand Ole Opry (Tennessee Travelers) even though he’d never danced before. Through hours of work and dedication, he learned how and continued to dance on the Opry as the Melvin Sloan Dancers until his retirement in 2002 ending a 50-year combined Sloan brothers’ tradition.
Throughout his career, he and the team also performed on the syndicated shows That Nashville Music and the Ronnie Prophet Show/Ontario Canada and numerous other tv shows. They performed at the JFK Center for Performing Arts in 1984 in a tribute to Roy Acuff with President Ronald Raegan in attendance. Along with Johnny Carver, Melvin co-hosted the local tv show The Town and Country Show. In 1990, he presented his shoes to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He and Ralph were inducted into America’s Clogging Hall of Fame in 1997 for their contributions of promoting and preserving the art of Southern Appalachian Freestyle Square Dancing.
Melvin was a true businessman, a jack-of-all-trades, a jokester and a good friend. He was a member of Bartons Creek Baptist Church. He loved spending time at Quality Care Nursing Home and spent many a Sunday there for worship and singing as well. He was an advocate of the Wilson County Fair and performed at the Fair for many years. He was a member of R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers). He was a member of the Lebanon Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons of TN, Lebanon York Rite Bodies and the Nashville Scottish Rite Bodies. He became a Master Mason in 1980 and was awarded the General Grand Chapter Triennial Entertainer Award in later years. Melvin was also a member of the Al Menah Shriners/Nashville and the Wilson Country Shriner Club.
As much love as he had for music, he had even greater love for his family. Family meant the world to him. He was kind and caring, generous with his time and basically just always there for each and every family member. He will be greatly missed.
A special thank you to the caregivers who cared for him for the past 2 ½ years. They treated him as their own and were a Godsend to our family.
Visitation for Mr. Sloan will be held on Friday evening March 3, 2023 4-7 p.m. and Saturday, March 4th, from 10:00 a.m. until funeral service at 11:00 a.m. in the Bartons Creek Baptist Church, 1530 Bartons Creek Road, Lebanon, TN 37090.
Serving as active pallbearers, Cody Lannom, David Sloan II, Bobby Watson, Phillip Watson, Ralph Sloan Jr., Carl Lea, Timmy Lea, Eddie Oliver.
Honorary pallbearers, members of the Melvin Sloan Dancers.
In lieu of flowers, the family request donations to the Alzheimer’s Association Mid-South Chapter Middle Tennessee Region in memory of Melvin Sloan, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601 or www.alz.org.
PARTLOW FUNERAL CHAPEL in care of arrangements. 615-444-7007 www.partlowchapel.com
For more obituaries visit https://wilsoncountysource.com/obituaries/