Melinda Wayne Munoz Remembers
As told to Jenn Thornton
“He was just a normal father” is the way John Wayne’s daughter Melinda Wayne Munoz remembers the man who to the rest of the world was larger than life. “He was so wonderful. But we were raised so normally it is almost boring.” Perhaps because it was a grounded upbringing, it is not her father’s many movie sets or stardom that come to Melinda’s mind as what matters most to her, it is the everyday interest he never failed to show—in her report card, in her friends, in what she was doing. Melinda says that she can see her father’s love of family in the reactions of Ethan Edwards, the character he played in The Searchers, but when she recalls the flowers that he sent to her on Valentine’s Day, as a child and into her adult years, she still feels it. “He was a man of honor,” she says. “I loved being my father’s daughter.” In the second installment of our special Father’s Day series, Melinda remembers some of the many things she learned from the first man in her life.
AIM FOR EXCELLENCE “When I had my girls, my father said, ‘Make sure the girls get an education.’ He understood that the world was changing. He shot from the hip but was he really open about life. He was a voracious reader, very bright. Interested in everything. Whatever he might have done, whether it was an actor or a lawyer, he wanted to be at the top. Not for the adulation. He wanted to be excellent.”
DO THE LITTLE THINGS “My father always sent me flowers on Valentine’s Day, even when I was married. I would always look forward to it. He was a true gentleman.”
FOLLOW THROUGH According to Melinda, her father’s golden rule was: “Do something and finish it. Keep your word and honor your commitments. Never let anyone down. If you’re going to be somewhere, be there. Finish what you start. Don’t quit.”
SHOW RESPECT “My father was a very considerate person. I remember when John Ford was directing a movie and we’d come onto the set—we had to say, ‘permission to come aboard, sir.’ He always thought about the other guy. He had respect for people—real respect. He showed respect.”
THINK OF OTHERS “If my father met someone, he was more interested in that person than himself,” Melinda recalls. “He wasn’t snobbish. He would ask you questions. He was very interested in people and life.”