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Obituary: BARBORKA, MELVA NILES

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 30 2014 10:10 p.m. MDT

Melva "Niles" BarborkaSeptember 12, 1925 ~ March 12, 2012Our dearest "Mama," "GramB," and "Melva," passed on March 12, 2012, after a courageous battle with sudden onset CIDP. Melva was born on September 12, 1925, in Shelley, Idaho, to Edith Rowberry Cook and Harry DeVere Miller. She was born Melva Isabel Miller, but was known throughout her life as Melva Niles. At the age of 2, Melva moved to San Francisco. As a teenager, her soprano voice won her numerous awards. At age 22, Edwin Lester, head of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, would discover Melva's talents and move her from chorus girl to the lead in the "Song of Norway." This led to a career on Broadway. Mr. Lester described Melva as having "the most beautiful soprano voice he had ever heard." It was during the national tour of Song of Norway, that Melva met the man of her dreams, Clifford Joseph Barborka, Jr. They married in June of 1949. Her voice was heard from informal gatherings in living rooms, to the White House, for President Truman. Many Utah residents will recall her memorable performances at the Valley Music Hall in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Melva recorded several albums, but is best known for her album with local favorite, Robert Peterson: "Things Lovely," performed with the CBS Radio Orchestra. To many, it remains one of the most beloved collections of LDS Hymns ever produced.Melva was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She served in numerous positions in the Church. Nothing gave Melva more joy and satisfaction than sharing her testimony of the gospel. She and her husband, travelled across the United States to share the story of their conversion, which would later be included in Hartman Rector's book "No More Strangers." Melva made fast friends with everyone she met; from the waitress at a roadside café, to leaders of nations for whom she performed.Melva was a devoted, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and friend. Her life was one of compassion and service. She faced challenges with hope and optimism, derived from her Martin Handcart Company, pioneer heritage. She lived by the motto, "Charity Never Faileth!" She is survived by two sons, Clifford (Judith Pope) and Vince (Michelle Manwaring), 10 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren, and was preceded in death by her husband, Clifford, and her brother, Ronald. Melva, wished to express her deepest gratitude to the new and lasting "eternal friends" she made at the Legacy Retirement Center in South Jordan, where she said she enjoyed, "perhaps the most wonderful and fulfilling year of her lifetime." The celebration of Melva's life will be held Monday, March 19th, at 12:00pm in the South Jordan Stake Center at 10400 South 2450 West in South Jordan. A viewing will be held in the same building on Sunday, March 18th from 6:00pm until 9:00pm, and prior to Monday's services from 9:30am until 11:45am. Interment will be at Veteran's Memorial Cemetery.Online condolences: www.serenicare.com