Dr. Melvin B. Dyster, MD, passed away peacefully at home in the company of his family on April 13, 2021. Born in Niagara Falls, NY on September 18, 1927, the son of the late Bert and Madeline [Jennings] Dyster.
On October 3, 1953, he married Mary Catherine [Toohill] Dyster at St. John the Baptist Church in her home town of Lockport, NY. She predeceased him on January 22, 1999.
He attended Niagara University, where he initially pursued an interest in veterinary medicine before his biology professor, Dr. Thomas Morton, hired him as a student instructor and convinced him to switch his focus to human medicine. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS degree from Niagara in 1948, earned his MD from the University of Buffalo in 1952 and did an internship and a year of internal medicine at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital before he joined the staff of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (NFMMC) in 1954. A Family Practitioner, he practiced medicine in Niagara Falls for over 60 years until his retirement at the age of 91. He was Chief of Family Medicine at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center for over 25 years. He was awarded fellowship status in Family Medicine in 1964, and boarded in Family Practice in 1971, being recertified every six years until his retirement. He worked extensively at the Hamilton Mizer Primary Care Center, serving predominantly inner-city residents who would find it difficult to travel elsewhere for treatment. It is estimated that he delivered or assisted in the delivery of over 5,000 babies in the course of his career.
He served for over 30 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve, retiring with the rank of Colonel in 1995.
He organized and directed a student health clinic at Niagara University for over 20 years and working in conjunction with the Niagara County Health Department and NFMMC founded a health clinic for migrant farm workers from Mexico, Central and South America.
He organized the medical staff and served as director of St. Mary’s Manor nursing home for over 20 years, and founded the Family Practice Residency program at NFMMC in 1976 to help avert a shortage of primary care doctors in the area, and to better train family doctors. Eventually, over a hundred doctors would graduate from the program.
He founded the Niagara Medical Reserve Corps to assist in natural and manmade disasters and worked on a task force to help update the City of Niagara Falls emergency response plan after 9/11.
He was a founding board member of the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center and for many years supported the Niagara Interactive Children’s Experience there, as a way of introducing youth to the region’s natural and human history.
Melvin was presented with the Max Cheplove Award as Family Physician of the Year for Erie County in 1994, then was named Family Physician of the Year for New York State in 1995. He received an honorary doctorate from Niagara University in 1996, by which time University officials estimated he had attended to more than 10,000 students over the years. He was awarded the HANCI community award jointly with his wife Mary in 1997. The SUNY at Buffalo Medical School gave him the Dean’s Award for community service in 2003. Niagara University presented him with a Deans Award in 2003 and the Caritas Medal for charitable work in 2005. He was honored by NFMMC at their gala in 2004, and received the Niagara County Champion of Public Health Award in 2005.
Melvin was a dedicated parishioner of St. Raphael’s Catholic Church, and daily communicant as long as his health allowed.
He loved to fish and hunt, was licensed to breed rare and endangered bird species, and was active in amateur radio. He was an ardent fan of the Bills, Sabres and Yankees—though in recent months he had developed an unexplained fondness for the NY Mets.
Melvin is survived by ten children, Paul (Rebecca) Dyster, Karen (Charles) Marra, Mary Pat (David) Young, John (Lyn) Dyster, Timothy (Sharon) Dyster, William (Deborah Holody) Dyster, Madeline (Terry) Camann, Melvin M Dyster, Margaret (John) Gabriele and Mark (Karen) Dyster, by nineteen grandchildren, Christina (Stephen) O’Connor, Katie (Flyn)Young Flesher, Bert (Kristen) Dyster, Charles (Stephanie) Marra, Ian Dyster, Timothy Dyster, Matthew (Cara Nichele) Marra, Megan Dyster-Colosi, Rebecca (Zach Breen) Young, Melvin (Cara Achtziger) Dyster, Rachel Dyster, Anastasia Gabriele, Michael (Cynthia Mazraani) Gabriele, Mary N Dyster, Caitlyn (Colton) Dyster Stallard, Cathleen (Sean Spencer) Dyster, Clayton Dyster, Terry (Becky) Camann and Chris (Christina) Camann, by 8 great grandchildren, Elise, Luca, Falkner, Fia, Shamus, Lily, Ronald and Austin, and by his Irish Setter, Molly.
Melvin was predeceased by his honorary brother Lawrence J. Beyer in 2011.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 11 AM at St. Raphael's R.C. Church, 3831 Macklem Avenue, NF, NY, 14305.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in his memory to the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, the Niagara Gospel Rescue Mission, or Heart, Love and Soul.
The family would like to offer their special thanks to Niagara Family Medicine, McAuley Seton Homecare, HANCI, Rev. Ivan Skenderovic, and Niagara Hospice for their assistance in our time of need.
Arrangements were made through the RHONEY FUNERAL HOME, Niagara Falls, NY.
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