Opal Zolene (Perry) Melvin was born on June 4, 1930, in Kirksville, Mo., to Plin Ople and Zola Gladys (Miller) Perry. Zolene was educated in the Missouri public schools and started the study of music at an early age. Her study included the piano, cello, pipe organ and vocal training. Her musical training continued during college at Northeast Missouri State University where she accompanied various student groups and visiting artists. At NMSU she met another music major who eventually became her husband, Steve Melvin. In 1952, Steve and Zolene were invited to Marshalltown by a college friend of Steve's, Armon Adams. Steve became the vocal music instructor at Marshalltown High School and Zolene took a position with the Melbourne Public Schools where she taught all grade levels of music and high school English and literature. Zolene also taught K-6 music in the Marshalltown Schools during the middle 1950s. She taught private piano and organ lessons through 1990. Zolene worked with hundreds of students and enjoyed watching them grow and develop their musical skills. Zolene developed a special relationship with each student and cherished their friendship.
Zolene was involved in many community activities throughout her life. She and Steve participated in the Nurses' Choir of Evangelical Hospital where Steve conducted and Zolene accompanied. Both were active on the "Messiah" Board for 20 years. The Melvins also served on the Marshalltown Community Concert Association Board and accompanied many musicals presented by the Marshalltown Community Theater. The Melvins were members of the Central Christian Church for a number of years. In 1957, Zolene became organist and handbell choir director at Elim Lutheran Church and later joined the Elim Church family. After Steve's death in 1983, Zolene once again became a part of the Marshalltown Community School District working in the District Media Center and at the Administration Building. She remained with the District until retiring in 2005.
Zolene enjoyed membership in the Tuesday Musical Club for a number of years performing in different capacities including two-piano programs with friend Audrey Hafar and also with Barbara Kondrath. Zolene's singing talents were put to good use in a group known as the "Dreamettes." She was also involved in P.E.O., Starpha and the Marshalltown Piano Teachers organization. Zolene considered Marshalltown her "home" and developed many friendships that were a vital part of her daily life. As printed several years ago in the Times-Republican, from teaching private piano lessons to playing organ at Elim Lutheran or piano at Community Theater, Zolene has put a song in Marshalltown's heart for many years. Zolene herself once stated, "I can't imagine being without music; I just can't imagine it."
Memorials can be sent to Zolene's longtime friend, Larry Pfantz, at 208 Wauconda Rd., Marshalltown, Iowa, 50158. Memorials will be directed to the Marshalltown Community Concert Association, the Iowa River Hospice or a Musical Scholarship Fund.