My mother had her 40th graduation reunion tonight. Although nobody mentioned it, the most famous and most successful member of their graduating class was not there...he had been shot to death in a shootout in 1987 in the middle of a bank robbery.
Melvin Dellinger was in my mom's group of friends and I've heard about him my whole life. Not a lot of people can say their mother was friends with a real live bank robber, but I can. He was very hard to catch because he was so smart. My mother always said how intelligent he was. He robbed 27 banks in Colorado alone before he was shot to death, how cool of a way to die is that?! He was known as the gentleman bandit because he was well dressed and very polite during his robberies, often apologizing to the tellers as he robbed them at gun point.
When it comes to bank robbers in U.S. History, including the old west, Melvin ranks 3rd all time, which is pretty good. Not getting caught helps I'm sure. My mom always told me how he was dating the English teacher's daughter. Once they decided to run away together and they stole her parents car, they drove really fast until the gas ran out and so they didn't make it far. With all his potential, somehow Melvin ended up in armed robbery. He robbed banks in Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, New York, Missouri, and Indiana. They believe there may have been more that were unknown. In October of 1987, on the 7th, Melvin decided to rob a bank in Denver, he already had robbed it once before and got away with it, I suppose he felt he could do it again.....he was wrong. The Gentleman Bandit met his end in a heavy gunfire from the police. A note in his pocket read, "My wife knew nothing about this. Please tell her I'm sorry. Thanks."
History happens everyday and sometimes the people we call friends go off and become famous. Who would think a 1971 graduate from little Williamsburg PA would become a nationally known bank robber? Not my mom who said, she would have never thought he could do such a thing.