Crutchfield Dermatology Foundation awards first Mel Reeves Memorial Scholarship

Photo by Travis Lee Mel Reeves

“We lost a champion for all that’s right this year,” said Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD, on the Jan. 6, 2022, passing of longtime journalist-activist and MSR community editor Mel Reeves. “I would typically tell a family member, ‘I am sorry for your loss,’ but in Mel’s case, I would honestly say I am sorry for our loss.” 

Reeves succumbed to complications of COVID-19 and pneumonia after nearly a month-long battle. He hadn’t gotten vaccinated, but Crutchfield noted, “One of the last things he told me was that he wanted me to publish an article on COVID and the importance of getting vaccinated.

“It was typical Mel,” continued Crutchfield, “always looking out for others and anyone who might need help. That is why we developed the Mel Reeves Memorial Scholarship for students at the High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul to continue to follow the path that Mel had blazed.”

With the belief that education is a proven pathway to success in America, the Crutchfield Dermatology Foundation, in association with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (MSR), partnered with the High School for Recording Arts for the $1,000 scholarship. The school works with at-risk youth both in and out of school and guides them on a pathway to high school graduation. 

David Ellis, chancellor and co-founder of the High School for Recording Arts, commented, “We have had an excellent relationship with the Crutchfield Dermatology Foundation for many years. They have supported the school in many ways, including scholarships for the kids.”

Ellis continued, “When Tony Simmons, the executive director of the High School for Recording Arts, informed me that Dr. Crutchfield and the Crutchfield Dermatology Foundation were developing a Mel Reeves Memorial Scholarship, I immediately thought of the senior student Walter Cortina Martinez. 

“Mel Reeves was a friend of mine,” Ellis added. “We go way back. I could see a bit of Mel’s spirit in the young Walter Cortina Martinez. As an outstanding High School for Recording Arts student, Walter also interned at The Minneapolis Foundation. He advocated and spoke to Minnesota state legislators and influenced legislative change that provided jobs for teens during the pandemic.

“Walter also founded Bridgemakers, a mentorship-based leadership program for Twin Cities youth seeking to break poverty, violence, and miseducation cycles.”

Said Walter Cortina Martinez, “When I was told I had been nominated for Mel Reeves Memorial Scholarship, I started learning about Mr. Mel Reeves. What an inspiration and loss for our community. He was a tireless fighter for all that was right. Mr. Reeves always fought hardest for those in our community who needed his help the most. 

“I am sorry I never met him, but his story will be with me and inspire me for life. I am the first member of my family to graduate from high school. My brother is flying from Mexico to attend my graduation. 

“As I graduate from the High School for Recording Arts this year,” he added, “I will do my best to carry a portion of the torch he bore for so many years. I am humbled and honored to receive the Mel Reeves Memorial Scholarship.”

“After meeting Walter, I am confident he is the right person for the scholarship,” said Crutchfield. “I have discussed with Tracey Williams-Dillard, the CEO/publisher of the MSR newspaper, and David Ellis, the program founder of the High School for Recording Arts, the real possibility of making this an annual event. 

“With the Mel Reeves Memorial Scholarship, we will honor, respect, and keep his fighting spirit alive in our community for many years to come,” concluded Crutchfield.