Melinda Anne Schissel
Of Kensington, California, passed away on SEPTEMBER 28, 2013 at the age of 49. She was born prematurely at six months in May of 1964 at Stanford Hospital, Palo Alto, California, to Arthur and Mary Anne Schissel. Melinda was a powerful spirit from day one. She was born with a congenital heart condition and survived a lifelong struggle with multiple operations and subsequent pulmonary complications. Her will to survive and the constant support of her family and friends carried her through every day of her life. She once said "I have a positive attitude and I am pretty darn feisty!" She died peacefully in the critical care unit of the University of California Medical Center Hospital in San Francisco after over three and a half months of surgeries and extensive treatment. She was surrounded by her family, friends and a caring medical staff of doctors, nurses and support personnel.
Melinda grew up in Berkeley and remained as active as possible, enjoying school, swimming, tennis, and music. Her exposure to the cultural arts started early with ballet, piano, violin, and viola. She enjoyed summer music camps and participated in the Berkeley youth orchestras. Melinda attended Berkeley public schools and often remarked that she was proud to have graduated from Berkeley High. She attended Dominican College, Humboldt State University and completed her B.A. in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz. She then started work part-time at the UC Berkeley Language Lab while completing a master's degree in Counseling Psychology from California State University, Hayward. During that period she completed internships at Hayward and UC Berkeley. She especially enjoyed her internship for admissions outreach in the student affairs office on the campus of UC Berkeley. She later completed a Certificate in Film Screen Writing from the UCLA online division. In recognition of her performance, she was offered an internship with her professor's film studio to review and edit new film scripts. Due to her health limitations she was not able to participate. She received a dinner visit for a discussion on this subject.
Melinda worked for twenty-five years at UC Berkeley with the first ten years in the Language Lab and the last fifteen years in the Graduate School of Education as support to faculty and students. She currently was working in the Dean's office at the School.
Melinda was an active member of the Pulmonary Hypertension and Cardiac Heart Disease communities and worked continuously to mentor others living with PH and associated heart/lung illnesses. She was a contributor to PathLight, the PHA organization's national magazine with an article devoted to an interview on patient-doctor communication with Dr. Alison Meadows, then the Director of Transitional Care for Congenital Heart Disease at UCSF Medical Center. In 2010, she won the national annual theme naming contest with her submission "Riding The Wave To A Cure." She was also a founding member of the PH Western Region on committees and peer advising for the National PH organization.
Melinda lived a full life despite her mostly hidden disabilities. She was an inspiration to all who knew of her struggles and were aware of her unrelenting and uncomplaining pursuit of a normal life. She was extremely giving with her time and assistance to all. Her generosity and thoughtfulness was extraordinary and she spent many waking hours thinking, planning, contacting and helping her family, friends, acquaintances and associates with their mutual affairs. To the very end Melinda remained battling, uncomplaining and positive for her full recovery. She appreciated all of the things that brought her joy and lived her life with grace and enthusiasm. She was an exceptional soul whose presence will be forever remembered and missed by her family and all who knew her.
A private viewing and burial service was held at Sunset View cemetery in El Cerrito, California. Melinda is survived by her parents, Arthur and Mary Anne, her younger brother, Emil and her loving partner Eddie Dickinson.
The family requests that memorial contributions be made to any of the following:
Pulmonary Hypertension Association, 801 Roeder Road, Suite 1000, Silver Spring, Md 20910 or online at:
Falk Cardiovascular Research Center:
UCSF-Cardiac Critical Care Clinic, Donate:
The family wishes to acknowledge the following doctors:
Norman E. Shumway (deceased) Heart Surgeon, Stanford Hospital Medical Center
Philip Sunshine and Staff, Director of Stanford Preemie Center
Harry Hartzell, Pediatrician, Palo Alto Clinic
Bruce Reitz, Heart Surgeon, Stanford Hospital
William Rhea, Pediatrician, Alta Bates
Pate Thomson, Cardiologist, Alta Bates
Luisa Munoz, Cardiologist, Alta Bates
Mark Reginato, Internist, Alta Bates/Brown and Toland, Orinda
Philip Moore, Director of the Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Lab
Allison Meadows, Cardiologist, UCSF Medical Center/Kaiser Permanente
Ian Harris, Cardiologist, UCSF Medical Center
Andrew Boyle, Cardiologist, UCSF Medical Center
And all the teams who supported their efforts to give their best care.
Alta Bates Hospital
UCSF Medical Hospital