RIGGIO--Melissa Ann, 20-year old beloved daughter of Steve, CEO of Barnes & Noble, Inc., and wife, Laura, died peacefully on April 7, 2008 at University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell in Manhattan, after a courageous battle with leukemia. She was surrounded by her parents, sisters 22-year old Laura and 16-year old Christina, both of Bernardsville, New Jersey, and other members of her loving family. Born March 25, 1988 in Brooklyn, New York, she lived in Bernardsville, New Jersey, since 1999. Melissa, who was born with Down Syndrome, lived a full and extraordinary life. She was a strong and optimistic young woman and was an inspiration to everyone who had the opportunity to know her. In May 2003, Melissa received the Self Advocate Award from The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) at their annual spring luncheon in Manhattan, which also honored Senator Hillary Rodham-Clinton. A graduate of Bernards High School, Class of 2007, Melissa was crowned Prom Queen at her senior prom. She was employed by Somerset Hills YMCA in Basking Ridge, where she was an office worker. Melissa had plans to enter a post secondary program so that she could become a counselor at the YMCA. She loved to read and listen to music and she loved to write. A poet and a songwriter, Melissa was taking voice, drama, and dance lessons and aspired to become a singer one day. Some of Melissa's songs were recorded by acclaimed singer/ songwriter Rachel Fuller. Melissa is also survived by her paternal grandmother, Lena Riggio, of Brooklyn, New York and many aunts, uncles and cousins. Family and friends may visit at the Gallaway & Crane Funeral Home, 101 South Finley Avenue, Basking Ridge, New Jersey on Thursday April 10th from 2-4pm and 7-9pm. A Mass of Christian Burial, open to the public, will be offered on Friday, April 11 10am, at Church of St. James, 184 South Finley Avenue, Basking Ridge, New Jersey. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to The Valerie Center at Morristown Memorial Hospital, Morristown Memorial Health Foundation, P.O. Box 1956, Morristown, New Jersey 07962. When making a donation, please indicate that it is in memory of Melissa Riggio. Services provided by Gallaway & Crane Funeral Home: www.gcfuneralhome.com or 908-766-0250.
Published in The New York Times from Apr. 9 to Apr. 10, 2008