Community & Public Service
Melvin (Mel) Ring
Mel Ring was a member of Huntington’s City Council for a single, four-year term. That was all it took to convince him that effective local leadership was not the sole province of government. He spent the next 45 years proving that point.
Ring grew up on a family farm in rural Grant County and joined the Air Force just a couple of years out of Van Buren High School. He spent the Korean War stateside, as an atomic weapons technician at a secret base in South Dakota. He’d earned staff sergeant’s stripes by 1954 but left the service to return to Marion and a career in radio. In 1958, he and his bride Loretta moved to Huntington where he became station manager for WHLT-AM radio.
He studied the community carefully as he gathered material for twice-weekly radio editorials. He soon realized Huntington was where he and his family belonged. He left WHLT in 1963 and a year later, opened a Sherwin-Williams Paint store in the downtown business district. By the time Ring retired from Sherwin-Williams in 1989 the store was prospering in a new location at Huntington Plaza.
He was a member of City Council in the early 1970s when Huntington developed its downtown pedestrian shopping mall. The controversy surrounding the project led Ring to resolve to work outside the political spotlight to bring change to the city.
Ring became a sought-after member of many boards and committees over the years. He was a guiding force with River Forks Industrial Park, Lime City Economic Development Corporation, Historic Forks of the Wabash, the Dan Quayle Center, Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club as those organizations became established in the community.
He has long been a member of Christ the King Episcopal Church. His farm roots show in a hobbyist’s interest in antique tools, and has gained life member status in the Midwest Tool Collectors Association. Ring has been a Rotary Club member and benefactor since 1960, and received the club’s first-ever Lifetime Service Above Self Award in 2017.
“You teach more than you realize,” Ring has reflected of his immersion in community activities. For nearly 60 years, the lessons of progress, cooperation and goodwill taught by Mel Ring have improved countless lives in the community he has served.