By Lupita P. Gonzales
Las Vegas Optic
Pat and Marylena Melton have spent decades juggling a thriving real estate business and their sprawling ranch east of Las Vegas.
Now they’re ready to take the plunge into retirement.
“It’s taken us since December to get to retirement,” Pat said, noting that breaking away from the real estate business hasn’t exactly been an easy task.
“Our retirement has been an evolution. It takes time to make that transition.”
Pat has worked at real estate 48 years, 22 of them in Las Vegas, with Marylena as his business partner.
Pat came from ranching stock. His parents’ family ranch in Atoka County, Okla. was his training ground, as he spent his summers helping out at the family ranch.
Somewhat predictably, he had visions of his eventual return from college to help the folks on their ranch.
In 1960, Pat’s second year of college, his father revealed to him that the ranch barely sustained the elder Meltons, and Pat would have to “do something else.”
The “something else” Pat turned to was real estate. In 1964, still a student at Texas Tech in Lubbock, he earned his real estate license, and upon completion of his degree, became involved with commercial real estate in that city.
But, another world opened up to Pat while he was preparing for his professional future at Texas Tech. He met Marylena Patterson, then a student of fashion merchandising at Tech. They married in 1966 and will celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary next month.
They spent their honeymoon in New Orleans, a site they would return to many times later. Marylena, Pat lovingly says, is an “Okie from Muskogee.” She traces her ancestry to the Creek nation in Oklahoma. In fact, Marylena’s great-grandfather was the last appointed Chief of the Creek Nation, and his title was given him when Teddy Roosevelt was in office as president of the United States.
While Pat was at work in commercial real estate in Lubbock, Marylena was busy raising their three sons, Patrick, Mike and Kelly.
During these years, she was active with Boy Scouts and the school board.
Eventually, though, in 1984, she earned her real estate license and began working for a friend of Pat’s in residential real estate. This was the prelude to the Melton’s real estate venture in Las Vegas.
In 1960, Pat’s father, William H. Melton, had purchased a 4,000-acre ranch east of Las Vegas, and when Pat was in college, he would help his father on the ranch during summer breaks. He even attended Highlands University the summer of 1961, taking electives. Pat’s father passed away in 1966, and the Meltons leased out the ranch until 1978, when they took on managing the ranch from Lubbock.
The couple would drive from Lubbock to Las Vegas to sustain the operation and bring their sons over during the summers.
Pat and Marylena built up the ranch from 4,000 to slightly more than 11,000 acres.
They were assisted for 42 years by Albert Gonzales, who eventually lived on the property for 24 years.
The ranch has always been the gathering place for family. Patrick, their eldest son, lives in the Houston area, with his wife and two sons.
Mike, the second son, is executive vice-president at Southwest Capital Bank in Las Vegas, where he lives with his wife and two sons. Kelly, his wife and son, live in Albuquerque.
Ironically, the Meltons initially did not intend to move to Las Vegas “for good.”
Starting in 1988, however, they began making the changes that would eventually make the ranch their home. Marylena’s father, John Patterson, joined them in the move.
From a modest dwelling, shed and barn beginning, the home the Meltons now reside in has been remodeled into a handsome two-story dwelling, with dormer windows and a cathedral ceiling accentuating the self-contained apartment on the second floor. Their front yard, overlooking the glorious meadows to the north and east, is landscaped and features a lovely outdoor patio seating area.
Ranch activity was “a family affair,” said Pat. All three boys would ride horseback and work the cattle. It was a “stocker-yearling operation,” he explained, “between the cow-calf and feedlot. We’d put them on grass (on the ranch) meanwhile. Of late, though, the grasslands have not been lush as they used to be.” Melton added, “The water situation is horrible. This is the driest it’s been in over 50 years. It never looked like this before.”
Pat and Marylena recently turned the ranching operation over to their sons.
The Meltons are perhaps best known for their real estate business. Pat and Marylena Melton built an aggressive, forward-looking real estate company when they finally moved to Las Vegas in 1990.
“Real estate is secondary to most people’s lives,” Pat says. “It’s important to spend time with the clients, informing them about the important things, like the climate, the town and the culture — to show them where they can enjoy themselves … that’s the important thing.”
The Meltons have immersed themselves in the town, enjoying themselves while helping others to appreciate the area. Both have been active in local and state real estate organizations.
Upon realizing, in 1994, that there was no real estate guide for the area, they partnered with Sandy Poppers and the Optic to initiate the Las Vegas Real Estate Guide, which still provides current information to interested individuals. He admits, though, that the real estate business has changed because of technology. Most clients who contact the office these days have done Internet research, and some even fly in to the airport.
To the Meltons, it has always been their policy for both business and social reasons, to spend time with the people on a person-to-person basis. They were both very active in their local and state real estate organizations. Together or singly, they are active in Immaculate Conception Church, in Rotary and other organizations.
Marylena has been cast as an extra in a couple of local film ventures —”Miracle in the Wilderness” and in a TV series that apparently never took off. She proudly shows a photo of her with Kris Kristofferson.
Indeed, the Meltons’ real estate office was used as the sheriff’s office in “No Country for old Men,” and filming has been done on the Meltons’ extended acreage for various movies. No doubt, these two will continue contributing to their community.