John Latane “Jack” Melnick, a former member of the Virginia State Legislature and an attorney with a long-time practice that he shared with his son, Paul, on Park Avenue in the City of Falls Church, died at age 78 on August 21. Among other things, he was known locally for bringing his refurbished Model A Ford to antique car gatherings that were part of monthly Falls Church First Friday events.
A graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, he was an assistant commonwealth attorney and served as president of the Arlington County Bar. He served three years in the Virginia House of Delegates, where he led passage of the “Compensation for Victims of Crime,” a state fund to compensate victims of major crime.
A lifelong Northern Virginian, he was born in the Alexandria Hospital on April 9, 1935, and grew up on N. Adams Street in Arlington. His father, Norbert, was Director of Inspections for Arlington and active in Kiwanis and other community organizations. His mother, Myrtle, served her church and other community needs.
Melnick attended James Monroe Elementary where, in the first grade, he met his bride-to-be, Marjorie Helter. They later met at Washington and Lee High School, reconnected in college, and were married in 1962 at the Clarendon United Methodist Church. They had two sons, John and Paul, and two daughters, Laura and Kathy.
As president of Arlington Sister Cities, Jack Melnick organized Sister City arrangements between Arlington and Reims, France, and Aachen, Germany, two of the cities that he and his wife loved to visit in their many travels to Europe.
He was a trustee of the Clarendon United Methodist Church, replacing his father-in-law, Marvin Helter, when he passed away in 1973.
In his law practice, which began in 1961, he was a specialist in estate, trust and probate law. In 1977 he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for attorney general of Virginia. In addition to his son, he was joined in his law practice by former State Sen. Ed Holland.
His love of old Model A and Model T Fords derived from a friend who used to drive him to high school in one.
He is survived by his wife, Marjorie, children John L. Melnick II (Lorrie-Ann) of Reston, Paul H. Melnick (Meredith) of Arlington, Kathleen M. Scott (Michael) of Leesburg, and Laura M. Thompson (Todd) of Leesburg, his brother Norbert W. Melnick of Niceville, Florida, and sister Jean M. Buckmaster of Payette, Idaho, and grandchildren, Jack, Marshall, Michaela, Kelly, Theo, Erin, Emily, Dillon and Evan.