Melissa passed peacefully on Sunday, April 14, at her childhood home, surrounded by her family, of a melanoma that had spread through her brain. Her death was sudden. She had been working two weeks prior to her passing.
Melissa was born on September 10, 1975 in Corona Regional Hospital. She attended Coronita Elementary, Raney Junior High and graduated from Corona High School in 1993. She attended Westmar University in Iowa on a basketball scholarship.
Melissa had a passion for sports. She played AYSO Soccer and Corona Girls Softball as a youth and was on the track and basketball teams throughout high school. In track she went to CIF in High Jump and made All County in basketball. She coached the LaSierra University Women's Basketball team.
Melissa always made time for her family and had a special bond with her young niece Juliya. She enjoyed playing cards, games, and a good joke while eating Mexican food and drinking a beer.
Melissa served the children, youth and families of Riverside County for fifteen years as an employee of the Children's Services Division. Melissa used her passion and her many connections in the community to organize Foster Parent Appreciation events, Foster Youth Basketball Camps, Caregiver Picnics, Holiday Parties for emancipating youth and worked with care providers to develop homes for children in Foster Care. Melissa also devoted her time and efforts to initiatives such as Family to Family, Faith in Motion and the Independent Living Program to improve the experience of children and youth in Foster Care. Melissa was respected for her work and loved for her playful nature and wonderful sense of humor.
Melissa is survived by her parents Brian and Claudia, brother Matthew and sister in-law Angie, sister Meagan and brother in-law Justin, niece Juliya, and nephew Jake. Cherishing her memory are Uncle Neil and Aunt Judie Zehnder and their children Cole (Christina) and Caryn Zehnder; Uncle Claude and Aunt Shelly Zehnder and their children Aaron (Brenda) and Eric (Taryn) Zehnder; Aunt Holly and Uncle David Gwilt and their children Jessica Gwilt and Sarah Calloway (Nick); Uncle Mark and Aunt Jennifer Zehnder; Uncle Alan and Aunt Lupe Zehnder and their daughter Victoriya; Uncle Bruce, Aunt Esther Duffield, and cousins Scott Duffield (Pam), Mark Duffield, Gina Duffield and Sammy Abalos; Aunt Claudia Duffield and Uncle Ed Brewer and their children Paul and Kale Brewer: and cousin Justin Wood.
She will be dearly missed by her many friends, co-workers and the families she enriched.
A memorial service will be held at Pierce Brothers Crestlawn Memorial Park in Riverside on Tuesday, April 22nd at 1pm.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the “Melissa Duffield Memorial Fund for Foster Youth” Through Altura Credit Union to continue Melissa's legacy of service.