Cover photo for Josette Therese Melzer's Obituary
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1926 Josette 2023

Josette Therese Melzer

July 28, 1926 — September 26, 2023

Josette Thérèse Frontin Melzer, of Redlands CA, died at age 97 on September 26, 2023, with three generations of loving family by her side.

Josette was born on July 28, 1926, in St. Samson, Brittany, France, to Joseph and Thérèse (Coinon) Frontin, and grew up in Dinard, France, where she received her early education at Trinitaire boarding school, forming life-long friendships and remembering her teachers fondly.

After the end of WWII, and four years of German occupation, Josette left for Paris, working briefly in a bank and for Air France, then as a governess in Greece and New York. At 23, she left New York on a Greyhound bus to California, and got a job at the French Consulate in Los Angeles, where she was working when a talent scout for Groucho Marx’s radio show came looking for contestants, and was selected to be on the game show ‘You Bet Your Life.’

After being invited to speak at an Alliance Française gathering, she met Douglas, and they were married on October 7, 1950, a few short months before Douglas’ California Air National Guard squadron was activated for duty and deployed to serve in Korea.

Upon his return in the Spring of 1952 they settled in Pasadena and Glendale until moving to Redlands in 1954 where they raised their children, Nathalie, Janine, and Paul, in the home they built. Her culinary skills were legendary among her friends and family.

Josette taught French Literature and Language at University of California, Riverside, and later at University of Redlands, where she remained as a tenured professor until her retirement in 1993. She also taught French as a Foreign Language during two summer sessions at La Sorbonne in Paris. She never lost her French accent, despite years of trying.

In 1957 in collaboration with the USC French Department, she helped implement a branch of the International Alliance Française, which for over 25 years hosted distinguished authors, artists and diplomats to present lectures on arts and current events to Alliance members and Francophiles on the University of Redlands and UC Riverside campuses.

Josette is survived by her children Janine and Paul (Emily Covington), grandchildren Holly Verhoeven (Greg Mardock) and Karina Ingerslev (Julien Casel), and great-grandchildren Lochlan, Oskar, Eliott, and Felix. Josette was preceded in death by Douglas, her sister Janine and brother Jean, of France, and daughter Nathalie Thérèse Melzer-Ingerslev of Denmark.

A memorial service will be held Friday, February 9, 2024 at the Riverside National Cemetery followed by a memorial reception in Redlands. The family requests that remembrances be made in the form of charitable donations to Redlands Meals on Wheels.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Josette Therese Melzer, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Celebration of Life

Friday, February 9, 2024

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