Merritt Alfred Dalton blew his first note on June 28, 1931 and whispered his last one on April 12, 2008. Known in the music world as "Mel" and "The Silver Fox", he was born in Pittsburgh, PA to James and Julia Dalton. Mel was an extraordinary musician celebrated for his ability on the saxophone, but capable of playing any woodwind instrument. Mel's career started in junior high school when he formed a band with Stanley Turrentine, Dakota Staten and Ahmad Jamal. Mel performed internationally as well as at the Apollo Theater in New York City and on the Ed Sullivan Show, often with well-known jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, Lloyd Price, Art Blakey and Sil Austin. He has opened for various musical greats in our own venue of DeVos Performance Hall. Mel served his country during the Korean Conflict and after being honorably discharged from the US Army, Mel married his sweetheart, Jeanne Audrey Monroe. Mel moved from New York to Grand Rapids, MI to accept an offer to play with the Doug Cook Band at the Blue Note nightclub in 1959. With two daughters and a third on the way, Mel decided it would be a good gig for raising a family. Along with that, he worked for Guardsmen Chemical until his retirement in 1985. He continued playing until illness overcame him this past December. He was preceded in death by his parents. Mel leaves his wife, Jeanne and their daughters, Frances June Dalton, Barbara Dalton-Skanes, and Martine Julia Dalton. Also mourning Mel's passing are his two brothers, James (Glonda) Dalton and Cabel Poindexter; one sister, Martine Rita Dalton; three grandchildren, Brianna Dalton Rodriguez, Bailey Jeanne Dalton and Brandi Jeanne Skanes; one great grandchild, Julian Dalton Aponte-Rodriguez; special friend, Doug Cook; and a host of nieces, nephews and loving friends. His funeral Mass will occur on Thursday, April 17 at 11 a.m. at St. Mary Magdalen Church, 1213 - 52nd St. SE, Kentwood. Visitation will be Wednesday, April 16 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the musical visitation will begin at 8 p.m. until 9 p.m. with a rosary immediately following at the Ivy K. Gillespie Moody Memorial Chapel, 1865 Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians, Local 56.