Mr. Melvin Gateley Remembered

This week, Cape Girardeau lost one of its long-time visionaries: Mr. Melvin Gateley.

Mr. Gateley served as Ward 5 City Council Representative from 1992 to 2000, and he aspired to serve as Cape Girardeau’s mayor on multiple occasions. Involved in numerous civic efforts, Gateley served as chairperson of the City’s Bicentennial Commission in the early 1990s. 

A key component of his service to Cape Girardeau was involvement in leading the Vision 2000 and Vision 2020 charges – a community effort to beautify the city and plan for the future. In 1987, the Vision 2000 Committee prepared a strategic plan for Cape Girardeau which was adopted by the City Council in August 1998 and endorsed for implementation. The plan contained a strategy for improvements and represents a broad-based effort for community betterment. 

“At the time of his retirement, we were just beginning Vision 2000 in the mid-1980s,” said former Mayor Harry Rediger. “I was a part of the original committee who hired a man by the name of Melvin Gateley, and he held the charge on Vision 2000 in the ‘80s and ‘90s.”

The Vision 2000 Community Relations Council constructed a commemorative garden as a memorial, dedicating the garden to the City of Cape Girardeau and its citizens in 2000.

Gateley reminded people of the key goals of Vision 2000 and Vision 2020, which centered on topics such as jobs, businesses, and community pride. Gateley said he still believed in the work done by that committee and continued its promotion.

Always working to keep Cape Girardeau a beautiful place to live, Gateley helped to plant more than 5,000 rose bushes across the city. He planted a rose garden that once sat behind City Hall. The rose bushes, with new amenities paid for via donations, were relocated to Murtaugh Park in Downtown Cape Girardeau. Commemorating Gateley’s work, the revamped Melvin Gateley Vision 2000 Garden was dedicated in ceremony on April 22, 2015. Through informational kiosks around the garden, visitors can learn more about the planning and improvements made around the city through the work of Vision 2000 volunteers.

“He loved his city. He was a hands-on man that was proud of and constantly talked about Cape Girardeau,” said Rediger. “He planted roses and daffodils and took care of mowing some bad intersections, and he and his pickup truck went around the area almost every day making the city more beautiful.”

In addition to his volunteering and community service, Gateley was a longtime educator with Cape Girardeau Public Schools.

“Melvin Gateley served the City of Cape Girardeau through education, Vision 2000, City Council, and the list continues on,” said Rediger. “His memory will constantly be with the city in the future via dedicated playground at Dennis Scivally Park and the Melvin Gateley Vision 2000 Garden adjacent to the Red House Interpretive Center.”

Words cannot express how much Gateley's contributions have meant to our community these past decades. Mr. Cape Girardeau: You will be missed.

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