Melanie Dawn (Schmalenberg) Wilson was born majestic on September 13, 1971, in Brainerd, Minn., to Joan Schmalenberg. At age 51, on the last day of the year, December 31, 2022, in Duluth, Minn., Melanie flew away, and she will forever be missed by those she left behind.
Mel, as she was best known by her loved ones, started life, as her mom recalls, singing, drawing, and loving on her first dog, Buschka. She was disarming and embracing. Her wings spread wide over so many people. She had an eye for the travel weary, the furry friends, the creative types, the outliers, the sweet spirits, and the disenfranchised. Mel had this incredible gift of seeing the essential worth in those she encountered, and if you were lucky, she made you hers.
She was a prolific artist, a singer, a novelist, a dancer, and a lover. She made art of everything. Mel had a steel trap of a mind. She was a purveyor of curious facts and stories, and if you had stories to share, she’d gladly sit and trade. The dance was strong with this one. When a song came on the speaker that she loved, her voice would raise, and her hips would swish and frisk, beckoning you to join in.
Mel had a lot of life experiences; some of them sour, some of them sweet. The sweetest of those were her babies. The pride in her eyes when she talked about her children poured out in pools of infinite love.
Mel’s calling was to work with folks walking through life with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She worked with people throughout Minnesota to help them feel uplifted, loved, whole, and seen in their moment to moment, day to day.
Mel remains in the hearts of her daughters, Iris and Jasmine, Hazel and Mathilda; sons, Austin and Emmet; stepchildren, Aaron, Emily, Andrew, Dylan, and Evan; brothers, Jasin and Brian; sisters, Andrea, Jada, Serena, and Fawna; mother, Joan Pate; grandmother, Margaret; many aunties, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews; and many many dear friends who are part of her family.
She was preceded in death by her grandfather, Donald "Don" Schmalenberg, and her uncle, Daniel “Danny” Schmalenberg.
A memorial service was held for Melanie on Saturday, January 7, 2023, at the Hoff Celebration of Life Center. Hoff Celebration of Life Center - Goodview is assisting the family: www.hofffuneral.com.