Rising Above. Going Beyond.

Remembering Melvin Ayers

Tavaris Dale remembers the first time he hired Melvin Ayers. Mr. Dale was working for Buffalo Rock. He hired Mr. Ayers to work in the Pepsi distributor’s warehouse in 2005.

The two men became good friends, despite the 28-year difference in their ages. On the weekends, they played in pick-up basketball games together.

“Melvin would be out there with us, at his age,” Dale said with a laugh.

Mr. Ayers died on August 31. He was a badge checker for Phoenix at the time of his death. He worked the noon to 6 p.m. shift, Monday through Friday, in Building 3328 on Redstone Arsenal.

“He could be having the worst day and would never show it,” said Mat Taylor, his supervisor.

That may be because Mr. Ayers was a minister. He pastored the Little Zion Primitive Baptist Church in Madison and had felt the call to minister since childhood.

Mr. Ayers also was a U.S. Army veteran and worked as a military police officer for five years, according to his obituary. His wife, children, grandchildren, siblings and other family members mourn his death, along with his Phoenix co-workers. One of them, Bryan Dingo, assistant VP of Government Services, spoke at his funeral.

“Melvin Ayers was a good, kind man and friend to all, someone who never met a stranger,” Mr. Dingo said. “You could spend five minutes with Melvin and you’d walk away with a newfound friend. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Melvin for the past four years and never met a kinder, gentler person. He had a smile that no one could forget and he was very easy to talk to.”

“Phoenix’s staff, Melvin’s coworkers and government customers lost someone near and dear to them,” Mr. Dingo continued. “They not only lost a co-worker, they lost a great friend who was respected and loved by all.”