Melissa Balch Hiley – Obituary

By  | September 13, 2018 | Filed under: Laughlin Service Funeral Home, Obituaries

Melissa Balch Hiley, age 51, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Melissa was born on March 20, 1967, and she lived her entire life in Huntsville. Melissa was a licensed social worker with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Melissa worked with great passion to be a voice and advocate for homeless people in this city and for access to mental healthcare for them, as well as for juvenile offenders who needed mental healthcare. Melissa worked for the Administrative Office of Courts administering juvenile diversion programs as well as establishing mental health courts and alternative sentencing programs. Because of her own personal fear of storms, Melissa felt compelled to assist victims of storm devastation in Madison County through the Department of Mental Health and Department of Public Health. She also worked with the Department of Public Health for tuberculosis treatment and control in underserved communities.  Melissa worked tirelessly in the fight for justice for all people, especially the rights of gay and lesbian people.

She was preceded in death by beloved grandparents Woodrow and Allene Balch and Sue and Stuart Hiley. Melissa is survived by her mother and stepfather, Glennice and Ray Swaim, of Huntsville; her father and stepmother, Jim and Nelda Hiley of Madison; sister, Amanda Hiley (Todd Heifner) of Auburn; three nephews, Jess, Andy and Nathan; stepsisters, Donna Swaim Whetstone (Todd), Kim Wingard (Peter); and one stepbrother, Matthew Pearce (Jennifer) and their children. She is survived by her longtime friend Cheryl Leatherwood of Ozark, Alabama. The family is also grateful for the dear group of women who were supportive of Melissa and who loved her across time.

She will be met on the other side by many homeless people she counted as friends, but who died too soon. Now she rests in a place in the presence of beloved grandparents and those friends, where there is no homelessness, no injustice and only peace and light perpetual.

Visitation will be from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Friday, September 14, 2018, at Laughlin Service Funeral Home, with the funeral service will follow immediately in the chapel. There will be a private family graveside service.

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