Mel wrote a snippet about her upbringing in 2004: I am Melvalean, named after my uncle Melvin from Hinesville, Georgia. As a child my mother called me Mel for a nickname, saying my name is too long to say every time, but it was she that named me! I was born in Savannah and my mom, brother and I moved to Philadelphia when I was an infant.

My mom married my step-father and initially settled in Philly. I gained more siblings, and our big family relocated to a suburban home outside of Philly, We had a gas stove and my mother prepared delicious meals that we usually ate in the kitchen.

We received our mail in a mailbox and we had a dog named Sheba. I ended up a middle child and remember sweeping the steps as a chore and watching my baby sister. I never received an allowance, but we all worked together to get things done.

What I remember most about my mom, Dolores, was her smile and how she taught us to properly discipline children. She did all the cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, etc. and she taught me to cook and bake. She also taught me to sew and crochet. We had electricity and well water and never used kerosene or candles, but we did often go camping as a family.

I was extremely close to mom and my one brother. Mom worked at home and my step-dad was a counselor at a local high school. My grandmother was Cressie Jo, but because she had stayed in Georgia, I had to write and call her. I did keep in touch with my family, especially Cressie Jo, whether they were near or far.

I graduated high school, running track and self-taught auto mechanics. After high school I went to culinary school. I got my first job and I had Tiffany, followed by Tyler and Sophia. My children are my most important part of life. I hope people will remember me for my honesty, integrity, sense of humor and knowledge.

Our beloved wife, mother and sister, Mel Thompson (1967–2008)