DeCesar, Melinda Howard

DeCesar, Melinda Howard 4Melinda (Mindy) S. DeCesar passed away on July 8, 2024. Mindy retired from a successful career as a ranger with the National Park Service, but the careers she will be most remembered for are of a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.

Mindy grew up in the city, but she raised her young family on a homestead in the hills of southern West Virginia. While working as a nurse in the community, at home she raised a huge garden, kept horses, made cheese from her goats’ milk, and helped run a small business. She founded a Girl Scout troop in the community and later became a regional director for the scouts. She provided scouting opportunities for hundreds of young girls.

Mindy taught her children to appreciate the outdoors with long hikes and canoe trips on the local rivers. She was able to see these experiences passed on to her grandchildren.

Her career took her to the United States Virgin Islands where she developed programs to educate visitors about the indigenous West Indian culture as well as the natural environment, both on land and in the water. It was here that she learned to sail, a skill she practiced until her passing.

After a spell in California’s Redwood National Park, she moved to Meadows of Dan in 2001, where she has resided ever since. Working on the Blue Ridge Parkway as a Supervisory Park Ranger, she was able to expand many programs in the Rocky Knob district. She developed an extensive school visitation program, expanded the demonstrations at Mabry Mill and Mill Mountain campground, and built the interpretive program at the new Blue Ridge Music Center.

After retiring in 2012, Mindy settled into her new non-professional life in Floyd County. She grew grand gardens of flowers and vegetables. She picked up her fiddle, which she had laid down many years ago, and resumed playing traditional music. Typical of Mindy, she became a founding member of the Floyd JAMs program. She performed many times with her band at the Country Store and other venues. Mindy also joined the Floyd Quilt Guild where she learned the art of quilting. She helped in putting on the Regional Quilt show which attracted hundreds of quitters from around the region. She made quilts for all the new babies that appeared in her extended family.

Mindy touched many lives but her love for her family is what we will remember most. She raised her two children to be contributing members of their communities. Her daughter became a teacher and a Girl Scout leader. Her son coordinated several food pantries to help feed those in need. They gave her the five wonderful grandchildren whom she cherished, as they did her.

Mindy is survived by her husband of 44 years, Thomas; her daughter, Nellie Coffle and her husband Jonathon; her son, Matthew DeCesar and his wife Tara; her grandchildren, Janiah, Jon, Clare, Jeremiah, and Margaret. She is also survived by her sister, Abby and her husband Jon; her brother, Robert; and her niece, (almost like a daughter) Rosalie.

There will be a gathering of family, friends, and musicians on August18, 2024, in Meadows of Dan.

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