Melba Jo (Booth) Lovelace was born February 13, 1930 in Red Oak, Oklahoma the daughter of Marion Monroe and Cordie Lee (Johnston) Booth. She completed this life on January 28, 2021 in Oklahoma City at the age of 90.
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She graduated from Panola High School in 1948. Before she came to Oklahoma City, Melba worked as a reporter at the Latimer County News Democrat in Wilburton. She took that job after the publication’s editor, Harold Moore, spoke to a class she attended at Eastern Oklahoma A&M.
She came to OPUBCO as a secretary and headed the dictation and typing pool. Her team was responsible for typing up stories called in from reporters and columnists in remote locations. That required fast-twitch editing skills, which managing editor Jim Standard recognized and made her a copyeditor, too. She approached the managing editor and said, ‘I can write a better column than this.' He said ‘Put something together,' so I did.” She chose to write about her passion for cooking and offered tips for homemakers and hobbyists. It was a hit. Mail was so intense she began sharing questions from readers in search of answers from other readers. Melba’s Swap Shop was born. The column first started appearing in December of 1975 in the Saturday edition of The Oklahoma City Times and in the Comics section of The Sunday Oklahoman. By spring of 1977, the column had grown so popular it went daily.
After writing the column seven days a week for 17 years—about 4,000 of them—she retired in 1992. She continued to write the column weekly which appeared in the Life section and featured on NewsOK.com with her last column appearing this last week.
She did television shows, a regular radio show and taught cooking classes at UCO, and wrote 16 books of recipes, crafts, quilting, and household hints. She also wrote book reviews for the newspaper. Her mailbox is consistently filled with letters from readers. She says, “My readers are my friends.” She was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 2010.
Melba was a judge at the State Fair of Oklahoma. She judged cakes, pies, ice cream and many other ribbon-seeking desserts for decades, not only at the state fair but also at the Oklahoma County Fair and many others.
She was a member of the New Hope United Methodist Church.
She married Col. George B. Lovelace who preceded her in death. She was later married to John Richard Abrams who has preceded her in death. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers, James Hilton Both, William Oliver Booth, Clyde Lee Both and Bobby Charles Booth.
She is survived by her daughter, Sandy Killian and her husband Don; Step-daughters, Rikki Abrams and Jill Abrams; her step-son, Jeff Abrams; her sister, Mary Lee Colwell and her husband Bob; her Grandchildren, Don Killian, Jr. (Shana), Christi Killian and Carla Jo Killian; her great Grandchildren, Robbie Killian, Jake Killian, Michael Blair (Casey) and Kristen Richardson (Antonio); her great great Grandchildren, ella Blair, Grayson Blair, Aiden Richardson and Elijah Richardson.
Graveside service for Melba Lovelace will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2, at Resurrection Cemetery, NW Expressway & Council.
Visitation will be at Vondel L. Smith North on February 1, 12:00-8:00 p.m.
A celebration of her life will be held at a later date when safety permits.