In her opening remarks at the memorial service for Melanie Shouse, Rabbi Susan Talve got laughter and a round of applause when she said that there were activists working the foyer with clipboards before the service started. “That’s how we know Melanie’s here.” Talve meant that only metaphorically, of course, because the next thing she said was: “Hard to believe she’s not here. I don’t know anybody who showed up more than Melanie Shouse.”
It was the unscripted theme of the day. Every speaker alluded to Melanie’s determination and promised to carry on for her. Barbara Finch, of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, said that Melanie thought fast, talked fast, and walked fast. Then Finch spoke to Melanie’s mom: “Your Melanie did not give up and neither will we.”
Fellow activist Kathy Geldbach was impressed with the breadth and depth of Melanie’s knowledge on political issues and with her concern, not just for abstract issues, but for the actual people in her life.
Ramona Williams echoed the awe each speaker expressed for Melanie’s determination: “She got the president elected, I’ll tell you. If there is such a thing as someone can will something into existence, Melanie willed Barack Obama into the presidency of the United States.” And then Melanie used her determination to nudge and coax Ramona Williams into one political cause after another. Together they created a structure for taking on various interrelated problems in North St. Louis City and County. Even though Melanie is gone, Williams concluded by saying: “So we’re gonna take the fight to the next level. It is on.
Various governmental entities will pay respect to Melanie: her suburb of Overland is calling Earth Day Melanie Shouse Day. St. Louis County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser read the Council’s statement honoring Melanie, and state rep Jake Zimmerman has introduced a resolution in the House to honor her. The most appropriate way to celebrate her activism, though, is by pressing the causes she sweated for. Jobs with Justice organizer Amy Smoucha, speaking last at the memorial service, delivered a call to action on health care reform. More about that on Tuesday.
Here’s a photo of Melanie–in younger, healthier days–with her partner of twenty years, Steve Hart.