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Not everyone knew his real first name, or that he had a twin brother whose name played into his nickname “Melton.”
But those who knew Melvin “Melton” Lightfoot said they would never forget him and his legendary friendliness and customer service at the former Holiday Inn on Columbus’ west side, where he served as a “busser” for more than 38 years, continuing on when the facility became the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.
Lightfoot, 67, died the day after Christmas at Columbus Regional Hospital after suffering from COVID-19 for about 10 days, leaving his family and co-workers grieving the loss of a customer service champion who never forgot the importance of a smile and exceeding a customer’s expectations.
His sister, Kathleen Anderson, said some people may be confused by the use of “Melvin” in his obituary because they have always known him as “Melton.” But actually, Anderson said, Melvin was his first name. “Melton” came from rhyming with his twin brother’s name Elton, who now lives in Indianapolis.
But for those who remember Melton, it isn’t about the name, but the way he made those around him feel when he served them room service or cleared the dishes from the table at the Holiday Inn and later at the Clarion.
“He had this outgoing, bubbly personality,” his sister said. “He was a real people person. There were no strangers to him anywhere.”
Lightfoot lived on his own in Columbus, but was a Developmental Services Inc. Client after moving to the city from Alabama in 1977. Anderson said her brother was “slow” about some things, and had a speech impediment, but did not let any disability stop him from pursuing a job. With the Opportunity Center’s help (the agency before DSI), he was hired at the Holiday Inn.
Chiquita Snyder, who met Lightfoot and Patterson when she started at the Holiday Inn as a server in 1991, grew close to both employees as she worked her way up to general manager.
“All those years, Melton worked so hard. He was one of the most hard-working people I ever worked with or supervised,” she said.