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In Memory of Melissa Christine

Melissa Christine Rodrigues (née Pappageorgas)

July 18, 1985- December 2, 2018.

Melissa passed away peacefully from cystic fibrosis surrounded by her friends and family. Melissa is survived by her husband, William “Joey” Rodrigues; their beloved dogs, Milo and Merle; parents, Chris and Lori (McKinney) Pappageorgas; her brother, Nick Pappageorgas (Annie Sours), grandparents, Chris and Peggy Pappageorgas of Pebble Beach and Doug & Melissa McKinney of Watsonville, parents-in-law, Bill and Nanette Rodrigues of Cambria; her sister-in-law, Emily “Annie” Rodrigues (Mike Cronauer) of Paso Robles; as well as many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins. She is preceded in death by her dear nana, Aileen McKinney and her “surf sensei” Shawn “Barney” Barron.

A lifetime resident of the central coast, Melissa graduated from Monterey High School in 2003 where she was an active member of the drama department, leadership team, and field hockey team. She then attended the University of Southern California earning her BA in Sociology with the recognition of The Order of Troy in 2007. She was a member of the Helene’s, YEP, and JEP. In 2006 Melissa was voted Sweetheart of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity.

Melissa dedicated a great portion of her life to volunteer work. While at USC, Melissa mentored at-risk teen girls, an experience that stuck with her for the rest of her life. She cherished the two summers she spent as a camp counselor at The Painted Turtle, a camp for children with serious medical conditions. Locally, Melissa was briefly involved with The Make a Wish Foundation. Most recently, her time was spent with The Living Breath Foundation, a non-profit started by her parents to provide support to individuals with cystic fibrosis and their families. Melissa acted as emcee and organizer of the yearly “In a Garden of 65 Roses” fundraising event. She also organized many events such as “Bay for Breath Crossing,” in which athletes paddle 28 miles across the Monterey Bay from Santa Cruz to Monterey.

In 2010 Melissa went to her first Mauli Ola Surf Experience Day at Cowell’s Beach in Santa Cruz, and it changed her life. With the help of the Mauli Ola Foundation and Shawn “Barney” Barron, Melissa discovered a love of the ocean and surfing. Through the Mauli Ola Family, Melissa was provided opportunities to surf in Hawaii and help spread the love of surfing to other people with cystic fibrosis. Surfing played a crucial role in getting Melissa strong enough to participate in activities she was not able to do before such as going on girls surf trips, two sprint triathlons, camping in Big Sur, and taking RV road trips with her husband. Most importantly, surfing helped Melissa survive 23 days on life support when her respiratory system failed suddenly, and she found herself in need of a double lung transplant. On November 3, 2015, after much anticipation, Melissa underwent a successful double lung transplant. An organ transplant is not easy, and Melissa was a true warrior in the following years. She was diligent about medications, exercise, and appointments, constantly and consistently advocating for herself and pushing doctors to find new solutions for issues that would arise.

This past year Melissa’s body started to reject her new lungs, and she was once again in need of another double lung transplant as well as a new kidney. She was in the process of being relisted for transplant when more complications arose. She spoke to her family and friends and made the decision to discontinue the breathing support she was on. She said her goodbyes to everyone and passed peacefully away surrounded by her family and friends.

A celebration of life will be held on February 2, 2019, at 1 pm at the Monterey Beach House, 285 Figueroa St, Monterey, CA 93940. (on Del Monte Beach) In lieu of flowers, please consider signing up to be an organ donor, donating to a cause Melissa supported, volunteering your time to an organization you support, or simply leave the beach a little cleaner than when you got there.

Register to become an organ donor

The Painted Turtle

Mauli Ola Foundation

The Living Breath Foundation

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