October 20, 1975 - March 7, 2014
Melinda Nielsen Sousa left us on the night of March 7, 2014 to begin a long journey. She was very tired when she left and we were fortunate enough to hold her and tell her we loved her as she was going. We will always miss her bubbly personality, along with her intelligence, beauty, charm, craziness, love of people, her gift of gab and her many other fine traits. She was a caring wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter, "Auntie Spicey" and most importantly, a very special teacher, who for many years gave so much to her students. It took her 17 hard hours to enter this world and over six very long months to start her long vacation. It was just as hard for her to leave as it was for us to send her off. We all appreciate the wonderful years she shared with us. Words will never describe how much she delighted us during her short stay.
Melinda was born in Modesto, CA on October 20, 1975 and passed away in San Francisco, CA, at UCSF Medical Center, on March 7, 2014. She was 38 years old and had lived in Modesto her entire life. She and Jon had been married for seven years and had been together for many more. Melinda was the first of three children born to Tom and Annette Nielsen and is survived by them, along with her brother Eric and wife Hong Diep and her sister Megan and husband Jeremiah Maker. In addition, she is survived by her stepchildren Justin and Jayme Sousa; her Grandmother Darlene Nielsen; her aunts and uncles Jackie and Greg Lloyd, Mike and Michelle Nielsen and Dave Spinetto plus several cousins. She and Jon were affectionately known as Auntie Spicey and Old Spice to her siblings' children: Caleb and Hannah Maker and Owen, Maddox and Parker Nielsen. She also leaves behind Jim and Judie, the neighbors she loved so much and the ones who loved her same. Finally, she was THE MOM to Marley, her Portuguese water dog, who misses her badly.
Melinda graduated from Beyer High School where she was both a cheerleader as well as a member of the Speech Team, ultimately receiving honors at both State and National Speech competitions. She attended MJC, being accepted into their Honors Program. She then transferred to and graduated from UC Davis; followed by obtaining her teaching credential. She immediately began her career, with the Modesto City Schools, as an English instructor at Johansen High. She transferred to Gregori High in 2012 to continue with her passion of teaching AP English to sophomore and junior students. During her 15-year career, she was also a CSF Advisor and a chaperone to students traveling to Kurume, Japan, one of Modesto's Sister Cities. During this same time, she had followed her father and also Jon to become a member of the National Ski Patrol. She and Jon went on many journeys, visiting Hawaii, France, England, Ireland, Portugal, Germany, the Czech Republic, Amsterdam, Mexico and the Caribbean - some several times. She will continue to travel with Jon and her parents, returning to some of these favorite places, along with others she had not yet reached.
Melinda was a vibrant, vivacious shining star, with the most beautiful smile anyone would covet; she was very involved with her students and we've learned many consider her their all-time favorite; she was amazingly organized; she was a writer and a poet, penning several memorable Christmas poems for her extended family. She was the favorite photographic model for her husband, Jon and the subject of several of his award winning portfolios. She was a gourmet cook, baker extraordinaire and the consummate party hostess. She was a fitness fanatic, enjoying both yoga and lifting weights. She loved shopping at J.Crew and at O'Brien's Market. She loved wearing Uggs or flip flops and spending time in the sun. She showed her tenacity as both a fighter and a survivor enduring her horrible illness over many years and especially during these last six months. She had battled Ulcerative Colitis since she was in college and never let it prevent her from living life to the fullest and from positively influencing the lives of hundreds of students, with many now finding successes all over the world. When she ultimately departed from UCSF, she left behind many new friends among the physicians and nursing staff, throughout the entire hospital.
No memorial service is planned, but there will be a Celebration of Melinda's life on Saturday, March 29th from 1PM - 4PM at 409 12th Street in Modesto. We know she would love for students and fellow faculty members to come and share stories with her family and friends. A memorial scholarship fund, to benefit students of Gregori High, has been created to honor her life and legacy. Contributions should be made payable to Stanislaus Community Foundation, with the name 'Melinda Nielsen Sousa' in the memo line. Their address is 1029 16th Street, Modesto, CA 95354.
Franklin & Downs Funeral Home
1050 McHenry Avenue Modesto, CA 95350
Published in the Modesto Bee from Mar. 15 to Mar. 28, 2014