Mel Cozzens


(Sept. 9, 2003)

Mel Cozzens died of an apparent heart attack in Cody Sept. 9, while he took his daily walk with wife Betty at Beck Lake.

Mel was born Feb. 10, 1922, in Byron to Joe and Bertha Cozzens. He was raised on the family sheep ranch in Powell and graduated from Powell High School in 1941.

For 23 years, from 1947 to 1969, Mel and his brother Francis were co-owners of the Powell Chrysler/Plymouth dealership in Powell, known as Cozzens Motors. Mel was also a volunteer fireman in Powell for many years and served as a city council member.

He and his wife Betty spent their retirement years at Green Creek on the North Fork.

He was in the Navy Air Force from 1943 to 1945, having received his wings on Dec. 4, 1943. During World War II, he shot down 6.5 enemy aircraft, damaged 6 enemy aircraft, earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses, four Air Medals and the Purple Heart. He was honored as an ACE pilot, which is recorded in a special museum to W.W.II pilots at Champlain Fighter Museum in Mesa, Ariz. He was shot down over the Pacific during the war and spent 14 hours in a leaky raft before being rescued.

His mother wrote of him in 1967, "The first glimpse I had of him, it occurred to me that we had in our midst one of the sweetest babies I ever laid my eyes on. He always acted in a controlled manner and had unlimited optimism and was never over-anxious nor worried; he accepted changing conditions as naturally as he breathed and came to terms with them. He mentioned flying through the immensity of space as if you owned a whole world without a care in it, a place where you could feel close to God without earthly interference, where your heart is moved to spiritual awareness."

He is survived by his wife Betty, daughter Joni of Cleveland, Ohio; grandsons Jon of Cody and Aaron of Seattle, Wash.; granddaughter Raina Robinson of Cincinnati, Ohio; and three great-grandchildren, Xaivion, Jzendra and Kazaar; brothers John and Minnie Cozzens of Ralston, Matt and Vesa Cozzens of Powell, sister Olive and Charles Hawkins of Powell and sister-in-law Lucy Cozzens of Powell. He was preceded in death by his son Jack and brothers Fred and Francis, and brothers in law Cecil (Bud) Stump and Harold Stump.

Graveside services were scheduled for 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16 at Riverside Cemetery in Cody under the direction of the LDS Church with Dirk Cozzens officiating.