Published in the April 13, 2018 edition

MELROSE — Suzanne C. Merenda, 48, a longtime resident of Melrose, passed away unexpectedly at home on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.

Suzanne was born in Malden on January 11, 1970. Raised in Stoneham and Melrose, Suzanne graduated from Melrose High School. At the age of 16, Suzanne was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. For 32 years, she faced health challenges with strength, determination, and sheer will.

Suzanne graduated magna cum laude from Salem State College with her bachelor’s degree. With a limited ability to interpret text, Suzanne used a Kurzweil machine as an aid when reading. She was blessed with the generosity of the local Melrose and national Lions Club that helped fund the specialized equipment for Suzanne. With this tool, combined with Suzanne’s outsized determination, she exceeded everyone’s expectations except her own. After graduating college, Suzanne received her master’s degree in Social Work from Simmons College.

Suzanne was smart, independent, and most importantly, cared for others. Her chosen career was to be a crisis clinician working with those most in need, including veterans suffering with PTSD. She also assisted her neighbors as an English tutor, and taught others sign language.

With her family, Suzanne had a special place in her heart for Maine. She spent summers in Damariscotta, where her grandfather had a cottage on the lake. Suzanne, along with her family, enjoyed summer days swimming, rowing, or fishing with her grandfather from the shores of Damariscotta Lake.

On a personal level, Suzanne showed her fun loving side by organizing parties for residents at the McCarthy House, and entertaining all with her comedic performances. On the weekends, she and her significant other, Chuck, found great joy on the dance floor together. Suzanne also enjoyed cooking, loved movies, and music, especially Elton John. Suzanne’s will be missed greatly, but will never be forgotten.

Suzanne was the cherished daughter of Susan A. (Linscott) Merenda and her husband David Samatis, and the late Joseph Merenda, Jr. Loving sister of Joseph Merenda III of Melrose. Beloved companion of Charles “Chuck” O’Leary of Melrose. Also survived by many friends and her loving cousins in Massachusetts and Maine.

Services are private. Gifts in Suzanne’s memory may be made to the Epilepsy Foundation, 335 Main St., Unit #8, Wilmington, MA 01887. For online tribute: