Melvyn Stiriss

Austin /
| 12 Apr 2021 | 04:59

Melvyn Stiriss of Warwick (formerly of Austin, Texas) passed away unexpectedly at the age of 78 on Thursday, April 1, 2021, of natural causes.

Melvyn was born in Manhattan on Oct. 3, 1942, the son of Ida and Theodore Stiriss. He grew up in a Jewish household in Edgewater, N.J., with his parents, sister, grandma and cousins.

Melvyn attended the University of Richmond in Virginia and in his 20s worked as a reporter for United Press International (UPI) in New York and Chicago. He rubbed elbows with bigwigs of the times and enjoyed the thrill of high energy interviews and reporting breaking stories.

Later in the 60s, as he would say, he “followed the story over the edge,” leading him to travel to San Francisco where he found a community of evolving and inspired youth. He dedicated his life then to growth, kindness, adventure and spirituality. On brightly painted buses, he and his new crew caravanned across the United States in search of a place to start an intentional community. They ultimately landed in Summertown, Tennessee, where Melvyn was one of the original founders of The Farm. The Farm was a major part of his journey, where he spent 13 years of his life and where, at its peak, 1,500 members lived on 1,764 acres of land.

While based in Summertown, Melvyn learned to bake, then ran The Farm bakery, learned carpentry, then provided relief work with their homegrown relief organization, Plenty International; rebuilding villages, schools, and clinics in Guatemala following major earthquakes.

He continued to dedicate his life to spirituality and goodwill, always seeing and teaching to see the beauty in all things. Melvyn published his novel, “Voluntary Peasants” in 2018, which chronicles his life’s work and adventures.

Over the years, he enjoyed traveling, being in nature, public speaking, playing keyboard, saxophone and clarinet, singing, establishing his own publishing company, editing, continually learning new skills, and mentoring others as they traversed their personal journeys.

Melvyn is survived by his loving partner of 19 years, Linda Steinhart of Warwick; daughter Sarah Stiriss of Austin, Texas; son Jordan King of Canada; granddaughter Sequoya Lester of Canada; sister Rona Stiriss Maynard of Shokan; close cousins; his niece and great nieces and nephew.

Private arrangements were entrusted to Lazear-Smith & Vander Plaat Memorial Home, 17, Oakland Ave., Warwick.

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