May 8, 1943 - March 16, 2016
Melinda Ellice Woodward, 72, of Salem, Oregon died on March 16, after a brave battle with ALS.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia on May 8, 1943, she was one of four children born to Richard L. Woodward, a consulting sanitary engineer, and Helen Beal Woodward, a journalist. Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, a community she remembered fondly for the rest of her life, Melinda graduated in 1961 from Walnut Hills High School where she was active on the school newspaper. She attended Radcliffe College Harvard University, majoring in history and performing regularly on Sundays as an alto in the Harvard Memorial Church choir. While a student, she was awarded an A.P. Gordon Traveling Fellowship for a summer of language studies in Mexico City-- the beginning of a lifelong desire to learn firsthand about cultures outside the U.S. and Europe.
Upon graduation in 1965, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to research the origins of inflation in Argentina. This led her into the field of socio-economics and global development and eventually to graduate school. In 1967 she entered the master’s program in public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and worked as a research assistant for the Ford Foundation in Ghana. Graduating in 1969 with an M.P.A., she became
a planning associate for two years at the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City, where her projects included design for improving prison medical care.
In 1971, she moved west and eventually settled in Salem, Oregon, not far from her beloved Aunt Wicks and Uncle Edwin in Eugene. Much of her professional life was spent working for the State of Oregon in the Mental Health Division. From 1972-75 she was the State Coordinator of Alcoholism Services. As the Assistant Administrator for Fiscal Services from 1983-85, she was responsible for the development, coordination, and monitoring of the $300 million Mental Health Division biennial budget. She was Director of Support Services from 1985-88.
In 1988 Melinda returned to school, earning her master’s degree in social work M.S.W. from Portland State University graduating summa cum laude. While a student, she worked as a family therapist intern and a psychiatric social worker. From 1990 until her retirement in 1998, she worked at Hoover Elementary School as a counselor.
In 1987, after a nine-year courtship, Melinda married Frank Meyer. She was the love of his life and they spent each day forging a partnership that was admired by everyone who knew them. They enjoyed exploring the Pacific Northwest together, and especially enjoyed hiking and cross-country skiing.
Retirement did not slow her down but boosted her spirit for adventure, which carried her to Namibia, South Africa, New Guinea, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran, Mongolia, Myanmar, Viet Nam, and many other countries, either with her husband or on her own. One friend commented that he and Melinda kept identical travel lists. The difference was that her list of places to see before she died was his list of places to avoid at all costs.
Melinda loved movies and opera. She was an accomplished singer and pianist, a knitter, and an avid reader. As her nephew said, she was his book guru--so many of his favorite titles were her gift and inspiration. Many of her friends and family benefitted from Melinda’s vast literary knowledge and from her ability to match
the perfect book with a potential reader.
Her remarkable intellect was matched by her empathy. While she was often the smartest person in the room, she assumed that others were as knowledgeable as she. Her respect for the innate dignity of people made strangers and family feel that their contributions were listened to and appreciated.
Melinda is survived by her husband Frank Meyer; her stepdaughters and their spouses: Laura Meyer and David Lorey, Lisa Meyer and Darren Ferris, and Christa and Dave Kaainoa; and by her siblings: Brenda Woodward, Richard Woodward, and Amy Woodward. She is also survived by a niece, a nephew, and five grand-children.
The family would like to acknowledge and thank Jeanine Brotton of Willamette Valley Hospice for her help and support throughout this process.
Melinda would be honored if you would pause for a moment to remember her as you are enjoying music, reading a new book, taking a long walk, talking with a friend, or planning a trip.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Willamette Valley Hospice.
Please join us for a celebration of Melinda’s life on Sunday, April 3rd at 2 pm at Mission Mill Museum in Salem, Oregon.