By Virginia Martin
St. Peter’s Claver’s Catholic Church was overflowing on June 20, filled with family, friends, neighbors, and others who wanted to say pay their respects and say goodbye to Melvin Carter Sr., who died June 14, 2017. Perhaps he was best known as an accomplished horn player and a dedicated community leader. Drafted during World War II, he was invited to play with the U.S. Navy Band. Back home, he continued to play while holding day jobs as a redcap and then as an engineer for the St. Paul School District. He played in many venues and with many groups, including some of the big names in jazz, such as Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, and Miles Davis. He was invited to join some of these groups, but he declined; his family was central to him and he did not want to go on the road.
He met his wife, Billie Dove Harris, when he was stationed in California. They had six children, including Melvin Carter, Jr., a retired St. Paul police sergeant who co-founded Save Our Sons (SOS), and Melvin Carter III, who is running for mayor of St. Paul. He is survived by his six children and by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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