September 4, 1971 – January 19, 2021
Melissa Francis Halter was reunited in Heaven with her Dad on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021. She passed away unexpectedly, quickly, and peacefully in her home in San Diego, California. It was not COVID related.
Melissa was born on September 4th, 1971 to Mary Hynes Halter and Thomas Albert Halter in Oakland, California. She was the youngest of four children including Kathy Halter, Tom Halter and Kristin (Halter) Elliott. From a family full of big personalities and strong-willed individuals, Melissa was undeniably the best Halter and the soul of the family. She embodied everything a daughter, sister, aunt, and friend should be.
Melissa grew up in the Arcadia area in Scottsdale, Arizona, attended Kaibab & Hopi Elementary, Ingleside Middle School and graduated from Arcadia High School in 1990. Melissa was truly “All-Arcadian” in High School where she began her lifelong journey of quietly creating relationships, identifying needs, bridging gaps, and building foundations which made the world around her better for everyone. Her many friends and classmates elected her as Class President each year and then Student Body President, recognizing her unique ability to lead quietly and efficiently. She was a member of the swimming & diving team where she was recognized as “Most Determined” by coaches and teammates. She also took great pride in her roles in Anytown, Delta Service Group, National Honor Society and AFS.
Melissa went on to attend Arizona State University for one year and then Northern Arizona University where she found her home and discovered her professional passion for the next 7 years. She was a Residence Hall Director and then Residence Life Administrator at NAU while she studied Psychology, receiving her Undergrad, Masters and Doctoral degrees in Counseling Psychology. In Flagstaff, she also created lifelong connections with her sisters in the bond of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.
The majority of Dr. Melissa Halter’s professional career was spent at the University of San Diego where she built a reputation of unparalleled respect and complete efficiency which colleagues, co-workers, students, and friends would agree always came wrapped in a soft-spoken yet commanding kindness. Without question, she was beloved by every member of her USD family and recognized as a humble and selfless leader.
Over a period spanning 17 years at USD, Melissa’s work experiences ranged from working within Wellness, Residential Life, Student Conduct, Academic Support Services and Academic Affairs. Additionally, Dr. Halter was a licensed psychologist and provided direct clinical care to students and worked to support them in a holistic way. She loved her time teaching and mentoring and was fueled by the impact she had on her students. Her most recent role at the University was Assistant Vice President for Student Wellness and adjunct faculty in the Department of Counseling and Marital and Family Therapy where, in December 2020, she was honored with the Sister Virginia Rodee USD Administrator of the Year. USD also recognized her leadership in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic crisis as exemplary.
Those who knew her best would say that Melissa’s life was never about Melissa…she was always focused on others’ well-being. It is hard to define whether her commitment to her chosen profession stemmed from her extensive education and brilliant mind or her amazingly pure and giving heart. Perhaps it was the perfect combination of both. It would be very difficult to find an individual who lived life with more intention. Unquestionably, Melissa’s every word, action and emotion were precipitated by thoughtful introspection and in-depth thought. She was a gentle and steady force in the chaos that often erupted around her. Her calm yet confident leadership inspired so many out of darkness, conflict, and doubt.
As a Godmother to two of her nieces and nephews, and beloved Aunt to four more, she defined gentle guidance and support without judgement. They all trusted her with their hearts and relied on her calm kind demeanor to help them navigate life’s obstacles with love and compassion.
Melissa was steadfast in her faith and prioritized time to nourish her soul in reverence and prayer. She loved fiercely and without bounds. Her family, friends and those in need possessed her heart. Melissa gave without hesitation and never sought recognition for her generosity. She was uniquely comfortable in her own skin, not boastful or attention-seeking, but instead she was quietly confident and sure. Her happiness was derived from the non-material things in life, in the simple pleasures: a bright blue sky & breeze, a shared meal with a loved one, a walk on the beach, time/talk with friends & family and being alone with her thoughts. She was wonderfully unique.
The world lost a true light.
Family members each lost a piece of their heart.
Friends lost a confidant and rock.
Co-workers and colleagues lost a leader and friend.
and, Heaven gained a perfect angel.
Melissa is survived by her mother Mary and her three siblings: Kathy, Tom (Karen) and Kristin (Matt), her six nieces and nephews: Tommy, Max, Grace, Abbie, Emmie & Teddy, as well as her dearest confidant and friend.
The family plans to gather and receive friends at a celebration of Melissa’s life sometime in the late fall of 2021.