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Melanie Temin Mendez

1972 - 2022

Melanie Temin Mendez passed away peacefully February 16 at home in Arlington, her loving husband Adnai and son Eli by her side. She was 49. 

Melanie’s life was a source of joy for the people who had the good fortune to share it with her. And there were many – she had countless friends and admirers drawn to her wit, intelligence and generous spirit. Thoughtful and sensitive to a fault, she was always ready to reach out for a walk, a talk or a good laugh, even at her own expense, and made a point of making time for the people in her life. This spirit of love and care was reflected in her commitment to equality and social justice in her community and the world around her. She made a practice of giving to those in need, whether collecting thousands of books for the Prison Book Project or stocking her glove compartment with new socks for homeless people. Her highest calling was to be a good person and she was one of the best.

Melanie was born in San Francisco and grew up in Cambridge. She spent her early years at Shady Hill School, Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School and the Cambridge School of Weston, then graduated from Colorado College and the Monterey Institute of International Studies (now the Middlebury Institute at Monterey), where she earned a master’s degree in TESOL in 2004. 

A zealous reader and a library stalwart, Mel always had a book in her hand and a stack by the bed. She was an enthusiastic researcher and when something captured her imagination she dove in, developing expertise – and strong opinions! – on topics as diverse as mushrooms, nutritional chemistry and The Simpsons. She was an accomplished photographer, with news and feature work published in local media and portraits still cherished in places of honor around her community. Her photographs, like the many letters she wrote, bear witness to her gifts for seeing the best in people and celebrating the daily magic of life. 

Melanie was an adventurer who loved traveling and the outdoors. As a young woman she lived and taught primary school in Costa Rica, the first step in what would become a career teaching English as a foreign language. She spent several years surfing and kayaking on the California coast, but it was her extensive travels in Latin America that led her to Cuba where on a six-hour ferry ride she met Adnai – the beginning of a 20-year true love that changed both of their lives. They married in 2005 and Eli was born in 2009, creating a family that was her greatest joy.

Together, they delighted in spontaneous adventures, whether a last-minute U-turn for a yard sale or a last-minute trip to Iceland. But they enjoyed spending time together as a family so much that they could have fun anywhere. Melanie always wanted to be a mother and she brought natural talent to it, from the baby food she made for Eli to her photo documentation of it mashed on his face. Throughout his childhood, she encouraged him to follow his heart, leading him to voice acting and her to managing his career, a joint adventure she loved. Her greatest wish for him was that he grows into a good man, and she was very proud of the young man he is becoming.

She faced ovarian cancer bravely, with equal parts grit and humor. Warned by doctors of physical deterioration, she showed them up by becoming a CrossFit athlete. She found a bright side to her struggles, mined her pain for laughter, and in typical Melanie fashion befriended her nurses and came to chemotherapy sessions with bags of books for their children. She repurposed her research skills to understanding cancer and joined scientific efforts to end it, participating in an NIH immunotherapy trial and finally arranging to donate her body to Harvard Medical School.

After a courageous seven-year fight, she died as she lived, with grace, strength and love.

Melanie’s loved ones are deeply grateful to the oncology teams who cared for her at MGH and particularly want to thank Dr Richard Penson, Dr Rachel Sisodia and Elizabeth DiTavi, RN. 

In lieu of flowers, those who wish to commemorate her life and death are invited to donate to the Sanborn Foundation (sanbornfoundation.org), which supports Arlington residents fighting cancer. 

Melanie was predeceased by her mother Charlotte Temin. She is survived by Adnai and Eli Mendez, her father Peter Temin, her sister Liz Temin, and many dear friends whom she loved and who loved her like family. 

A formal celebration of Melanie’s life will be held later this year. In the meantime, we can all honor her memory by centering kindness, generosity and friendship in our own lives. Thank you, Melanie.

 

 

Comments   
# Lydia Faulkner 2022-03-06 18:44
I met Melanie the very first time I ever attended a Greater Boston Keto meetup. She was a source of tremendous information and help when I first started and she texted often when I first started, giving me book recommendations, tips, tricks and all kinds of helpful information. She was so warm and friendly the first time I came I kept coming back. I loved seeing her bright smile every time I went to the meet ups in Cambridge. I am so very sorry to hear of her passing. She was warm and wonderful to a total stranger who clearly needed help.
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