Cathy Melvin

Obituary of Cathy Lee Melvin

Please share a memory of Cathy to include in a keepsake book for family and friends.

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved Cathy Lee Melvin. She departed peacefully in her sleep, leaving a world that was undeniably better because of her.

Born and raised in Hope Mills, NC, Cathy shone brightly from a young age, both academically as her high school's valedictorian and athletically as a star basketball player. Her pursuit of knowledge took her to UNC Chapel Hill, where she impressively achieved her undergraduate, MPH, and PHD degrees.

Cathy's dedication to public health saw her in notable positions such as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for the South Carolina Department of Health Service, Program Services and Branch Chief in CDC"s Prevention and Health Promotions Division of Reproductive Health, and the Director of the National Dissemination Office of Smoke-Free Families. One of her crowning achievements was her pivotal role in founding the MUSC Department of Public Health Sciences.

At UNC, her leadership in the National Smoke-Free Families initiative, sponsored by Robert Wood Johnson and CDC, set the benchmark for smoking and pregnancy initiatives. Her contributions to community-based cancer control in North Carolina were invaluable, and she carried that expertise and passion into South Carolina.

A mentor to many, Cathy believed that the true essence of legacy was in teaching. At MUSC, she generously shared her experiences, wisdom, and passion with budding public health professionals. Her contributions have paved the way for a flourishing training program in public health sciences at MUSC. Moreover, she helped to recruit and then she led a division of public health faculty that focused on health behavior and promotion.

During her tenure at the CDC, Cathy's work in improving pregnancy outcomes using health and behavioral data resulted in tangible positive changes for countless families, both within America and beyond. A beacon of integrity and dedication, she made strides in public health policies, especially in relation to tobacco use during pregnancy and early adoption of newborn screening for sickle cell disease in South Carolina. This screening is now the standard of care for all babies born to families with sickle cell trait.

Together with Ernie Patterson, Cathy was a symbol of love, community, and service. Their dedication was palpable, be it through their tireless work with the Exchange Club or their shared adventures as a couple, with family, and with friends.

Outside of her professional achievements, Cathy had a rich tapestry of interests. She was deeply involved in Scottish traditions, directing Scottish Fiddling at the Grandfather Mountain Games and reveling in Scottish and Highland Dancing. An artist at heart, she loved painting, often crafting heartfelt cards to commemorate special occasions.

Cathy's union with Ernie in 2008 was a testament to shared values, love, and commitment. Their adventures, both solo and with their extended family, showcased their shared spirit of service and love.

Cathy is lovingly remembered by siblings, Rose (Vance) and Tom (Joanne). Her children Candace (Will), Christopher (Mandy), Reed (Stefanie) and Finney (Becky).

Cathy cherished the time she would spend with her beloved family. Many joyful memories will live on with her previous nieces and nephews Brian, Blake and Boz as well as her adored grandchildren Kelly, Riley, Nathan, Katelyn, Zachary, Brandon, and treasured grandnephews Ben, Lilly, Ellie, and Annie.

Cathy will be remembered by many special friends. She will also be remembered by numerous colleagues, and her sweet companion Hoover.

Cathy's unwavering spirit of selflessness, her passion for public health, and her deep-rooted love for family and community will forever be etched in our hearts. She may have departed this world, but her legacy and the warmth of her memory will forever remain.

In memory of a life so beautifully lived, and a heart so deeply loved.

The family would like to thank the staff, nurses and doctors at the UNC Bone Marrow transplant unit for their care and love of Cathy and Ernie.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina's mission is to provide hope, safety, and opportunity to at-risk, pregnant girls and women.

Share Your Memory of