Melanie Anne LeGate Kuhnel passed away on March 2, 2019 at the age of 78. Melanie was born on December 10, 1940 in Sacramento as the first-born child to Alvis Floyd LeGate and Norlene Halcyon Whitley. She attended Trinity Lutheran School, and later Kit Carson Junior High and Sacramento High School all in Sacramento, before graduating from Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley.

Melanie married James Lollich, with whom she had three lovely daughters — Leslie (Paul), Martha (Clifford) and Rebecca (Lloyd). Her second husband was Jack Berry, a union that produced a wonderful son, Steven (Shannon). At this time she also helped raise her stepson Scott, who she loved like her own. Finally on February 11, 1979 she married her current husband, Ron Kuhnel. They had another wonderful son, Joshua (Becca). Subsequently Ron’s son David (Darlene) came to live with them and once again Melanie proved herself to be a a very loving and caring stepmother.

Melanie is survived by brothers Spencer (Andrine) Lawson (Claire), and Chris (Jean), sister Celeste (Dave), her Aunt, Anita Whitley, many grandchildren and step-grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, along with many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents, Alvis and Norlene, and her brother Alvis (Sharon).

Melanie spent most of her working career in data processing, as a programmer, computer systems analyst and computer systems manager, rising to become one the highest ranking female executives in her field when she retired in the mid-1990s to take care of her aging father.

Education was always important to Melanie, and she earned an Associate of Arts in Data Processing from Sierra College, a bachelor’s degree in Human Relations and Organizational Behavior, and a masters of Public Administration from the University of San Francisco, a certificate in Historic Preservation and Restoration Technology from the College of the Redwoods and finally a Bachelor of Arts in Music (Piano Performance) from Humboldt State University. Melanie taught data processing at the College of the Redwoods and piano at Humboldt State University.

Melanie was never afraid of a challenge and her accomplishments were too many to chronicle in a few words, but doing a triathlon, climbing Mt. Rainier on a rope team, and riding 200 miles on a bicycle over 7,000 feet of of mountains in a single day during the Davis Double Century were typical of her indomitable spirit.

She loved to travel, and with her husband visited all 50 states and 50 countries. Backpacking and communing with nature were her passion, and she vised the great majority of the nation’s national parks and monuments. You could always find her on the trail. A devout conservationist she gave liberally to environmental causes, with the Sierra Club and Audubon Society being two of her favorites. A civic activist, she served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Eureka Heritage Society, and was an Historic Preservation Commissioner for the City of Eureka for fifteen years. Melanie’s philosophy in life was to make the world a better place. We believe she did her job well. She was a person of uncommon integrity and lived her life to the highest of standards, with never a harsh word to anyone. She believed that you always had to do the “right” thing, and she endeavored to pass on this philosophy to her children, and in particular her spouse, Ron, who credits her with raising his standards so he could perform at a higher level of excellence.

Services will be held at the Jefferson Community Center, 1000 B Street in Eureka. CA at 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 10th. Graveside services will be held later that day at 2:30 PM at the Ferndale Cemetery located on Ocean Avenue, two blocks east of Main Street in Ferndale. Arrangements are by Sanders Funeral Home and visitation and viewing is offered at their chapel at 1835 E Street in Eureka on Thursday, March 7 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and again on Friday March 8 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Remembrances should be sent to the Eureka Heritage Society, P.O. Box 1534, Eureka, CA 95502-1534.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Melanie Kuhnel’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.