Rob Melton was born in Berkeley, Calif., grew up in the Bay Area, and is a great-grandson of John Edgar McElrath and Elsie Ann Alden. He is a descendant of Mayflower pilgrims John Alden and Priscilla Mullins Alden; Gov. Stephen Hopkins, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first Governor of Rhode Island; founding father and first governor of Tennessee John Sevier; and Oconastota, great warrior and Chief of the Cherokees. He started work at the age of 17 as an editor of several weekly newspapers in Sonoma County and graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon, where he met his future wife. He was a reporter/photographer for an Oregon daily newspaper before teaching high school journalism in Oregon for 31 years.