Remembering the Charleston 9: Melvin Champaign


Melvin Champaign was a man who people say had a never-ending smile, and was always the best dressed in the room.

His cousin, Carl Champaign, says, “Oh this guy, oh my God. He had a love for suits. Everything he puts on has to match.”

Even when he was at the fire station.

Champaign says, “Everything nice, and neat, and tucked in… Shoes shined to the T. He makes sure the cap on his head was perfect, everything about him.”

Carl Champaign says he and Melvin were cousins, and the best of friends.

Melvin was a busy man, a deacon at the church.

Champaign says, “Anything that the pastor needed him to do, Melvin was right on it.”

A father, who Carl says was the glue of the family.

Champaign says. “Melvin came in and just put everyone together.”

And a fireman who loved his job every day.

Champaign says, “If he had made it out of that fire, and there was another fire like that… he would do the same thing.”

He says Melvin had a trademark smile that he wore every day of his life.

Champaign says, “Melvin had a smile that you would not forget. Everywhere he goes he had a smile on his face. I’d never seen him in an angry mood, he’s always smiling and laughing and cracking jokes.”

And that smile, passed down to Melvin’s first granddaughter who was born this year.

Champaign says, “It’s a joy, it’s a joy, because every time I look at her it reminds me of Melvin.”



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