James Fredrick Melnik

Date of Birth

August 23, 1942

Date of Death

October 21, 2021

James (“Jim”) Fredrick Melnik died peacefully at home in Santa Barbara on October 21,  2021. Jim was born in Syracuse, New York on August 23, 1942, to his parents John and  Mary. He was the youngest of four siblings (John, Hank, and Barbara). He attended  Thomas J Corcoran High School and the State University of New York at New Paltz, where he studied Art.

Jim met Patricia Chambers, née Giteles, in Long Island, New York in 1967 and they married in 1973. They had three children (Joshua, Patience, Jedidiah) who were the joys of Jim’s life.

Jim made his living as a landscape designer here in Santa Barbara for over 40  years.  He considered each garden a blank canvas and approached his work as an artist. Many of his designs are hidden behind the fabled gates of private estates, but he also did more public work for Lotusland and the City of Ventura. Each of his hand-drawn landscape design site plans are works of art. Jim was comfortable with a sketchpad in his hands, but not with a cell phone–an inconvenience that didn’t deter his clients, some of whom flew him all over the world to work on their gardens in England, Costa  Rica, Cuba, and Canada.

Jim is survived by his sister Barbara Foscolo (Nicholas) of New York, his children Josh Melnik (Lisa), Patience Melnik (John Kochendorfer), and Jed Melnik (Tamara) and  his six grandchildren (Vivian and Phoebe; Abraham and Jedidiah; and Cyrus and Seona) and a gaggle of nieces and nephews (John, Stephen, Amy, Frank, Beth, Chris, and Frank)

Jim was always an independent, strong, creative ‘old soul’ who enjoyed Polish food and kindness. Jim had a chili club that met every Wednesday night for years and there was always a place at his table for a wandering minstrel or a soul who was hungry and had no other place to be that night. Many of his clients became his friends and enjoyed many evenings sharing meals, poetry, and stories. He had friends from all backgrounds,  religions, and walks of life.

If you want to share a story about your own experiences with Jim, please email charmadillo@me.com

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Santa Barbara Beautiful.

Graveside Services will be held Friday at 1:15pm, November 5, 2021 at Santa Barbara Cemetery.  All are welcome to attend.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.