Melvyn Stiriss


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


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


Melvyn attended The University of Richmond, VA and in his 20s worked as a reporter for United Press International (UPI) in NY 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, TN, where Melvyn was one of the original founders of The FarmThe 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 co., 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, TX; son, Jordan King of Canada; granddaughter, Sequoya Lester of Canada; sister, Rona Stiriss Maynard of Shokan, NY, close cousins, his niece and great nieces and nephew. 


Private arrangements were made. 

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He was an old friend and a big part of our community. Sorry to see him go! Blessings to Melvin's family.
Pamela and Leslie Hunt
Mel was a good friend for decades. we lived together at The Farm for about a year and I very much enjoyed the experience. His book was excellent and an honest accounting of his time there. He will be missed by all of us.
John Coate
Our condolences and love to you at this time! Melvin was a good guy and is missed!
Linda and Richard Speel
I'm sorry for such a deep loss. I have so many memories of Melvin from Farm life. Learning to make bagels at the bakery was FUN! He had so many gifts that went to the heart of his generosity of spirit. What an intense & informative account of his experiences being a voluntary peasant. ❤️
Jo McMahon
I have many many memories of Melvyn. All the cousins grew up in the same house in Edgewater, NJ. One memory that is very salient is this: The Cohens lived in a small 4 room apartment on the first floor of a 6 apartment family-owned house.The Stirisses lived in a similar apartment upstairs. I slept on a pullout couch in the living room and my two sisters slept in the bedroom. When I was about 14 I was awakened by a trapping at the window about 3:00 am. It was Melvyn. I opened the window and he said "We are going to the Jersey shore". I didn't question it, since Melvyn always goes on adventures and sometimes takes me. I got dressed quickly and woke up my mom. I said Melvyn is taking me to the shore. She simply said OK and went back to sleep. We drove to the shore and hung out for a while. We had no bathing suit or sunscreen. We came home after a few hours on the beach. Another adventure with Melvyn and a great memory.
Steven Cohen
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