Melissa Minton: The Passing of a Provender Powerhouse and Beloved Friend

July 6th 2021

Provender lost a dear friend and long-time member last week. Melissa Minton, who we all knew as Mel, died on June 29th from metastasized breast cancer. Mel was a quiet powerhouse in the natural foods world. She was the General Manager of Community Market, a worker-run, not-for-profit natural food store, for over 25 years. With her servant leadership style and financial know-how, the Market grew to two stores that serve and support the community in Sonoma County, CA.

Mel got involved with the Provender Alliance in the 1990s and served one term on the Board of Directors from 1995-1997. She continued to volunteer and serve on the steering committee until 2007 when she once again ran for the Board and served for eight more years.

Provender would not be what it is today without Mel.

She was the financial brains of the Board and introduced Policy Governance. She attended almost every conference and was always available to help make the conference a success (as long as it didn’t require public speaking).

Mel was smart and shy and generous, and laughed easily. She made many friends through Provender, and each one can tell you stories about how Mel helped them with issues they were having at their business or supported them and helped them reach potentials they couldn’t imagine on their own. She will be greatly missed.

Mel is survived by her wife Jules, their son Colby, and by her mother, Barbara. A Celebration of Life is planned for August 14th at Community Market in Sebastopol, and all who loved Mel are invited.

Please share your stories about Mel in the comments section below (at the bottom of this page).

(To see Provender’s full collection of photos of Mel and to add yours, please click HERE.)

9 thoughts on “Melissa Minton: The Passing of a Provender Powerhouse and Beloved Friend

  1. Those of you who knew Mel understand the stealthy way she entered and lodged into your heart. It’s a quiet slipping in, through a series of sly smiles, one line quips, profound gems of ideas and suggestions, the slight toss of short hair and the short and deep laughs with one hand in her pocket. I can picture this all perfectly, as if she is just now sitting by my side, curiously and impishly peeking over my shoulder to see what I write about her. I have never met anyone who embodied such passion and depth of character, especially as she applied it to those around her. Yes, she was wicked smart. And I often wondered what the hell she was doing as a General Manager of a health food store when she could have been a CFO, or some other big-wig of a major (likely corporate) company. But that was Mel, she had her priorities just right. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the difference she could make and who she loved and where she felt the most comfortable. It was about her larger mission that expressed care and consciousness about the planet, the food, ALL living people, no matter shape or color, and the animals. She found her community with all of us at Provender. Mel was the ultimate sacrifice, in the ways that she gave herself so deeply and committedly to those around her. Mel’s mold has been broken as there will never be another person like her. I will always look to the sky to see her spirit born on the wings of the birds she so loved. I love you Mel, now and forever, as do so many others.

  2. I met Mel at my first board meeting in 2003. She was on the Steering Committee and I was a newbie board member. I remember I thought she was so shy but wicked smart. I didn’t think we would become friends. I was so wrong. I have so many great memories of Mel, from long chats about finances, both business and personal, to hilarious games of Cards Against Humanity. We helped each other through the ups and downs of our individual stores and worked hard together to make Provender a success. We even combined Cards Against Humanity and board meetings by playing the Lab version and laughing out loud at very inappropriate moments in the meeting (Susan was not pleased). We shared more beers than I can count and played Words Friends for almost 10 years (she beat me 2:1 and I loved every minute of it). She helped me fall in love with birds and I think of her every time I pick up my binoculars. I have greatly admired her strength and perseverance as she dealt with cancer for over 8 years. She has been a role model, a drinking buddy, and someone I could always count on. I miss her so much.

  3. Mel and I hit it off right away, and we’ve known each other so long I don’t even know when we met, she is so intertwined in my world. Was it the love of natural foods that made me love her? Was it that we were both Melissa’s? Was it her sly wit and my willingness to laugh? Who knows, and who cares? She was one of the best parts of being involved with the Provender Alliance, and she will live on through all of us. The next time we are all able to meet in person for a conference, she will be there with us too. She has left a lasting legacy, and will remain beloved in my heart. NFA Mel

  4. Mel was a kind, thoughtful, measured, and inspiring leader and icon to the Provender and wider natural products industry communities. It was my great pleasure to know and work with Mel through the Provender board and INFRA. She leaves us too soon, and she will be sorely missed.

  5. Mel will forever have a most treasured place in my heart. On the first day of meeting one another, she immediately saw my potential and never stopped believing in me, never stopped giving me opportunities to grow and flourish. We shared so many beautiful moments together. A mentor, a friend, a sister, a legend. I’ll miss you dear one.

  6. Dearest Mel – Thank you for your hard work truly embodying the mission of Provender – you committed yourself to educating and inspiring our community. You have made such a positive difference in the lives of so many. Your hard work, dedication, integrity, intelligence, sense of humor, kindness and generosity have inspired me and others to be better friends, co-workers, and community members. The love and partnership that you and Jules share is also inspiring. The commitment to your shared happiness and to your individual well being is truly remarkable. I can’t believe you are gone so soon and I feel so lucky to have known you. Your passing is another important reminder to never hesitate to tell someone how much you love them and to tell them how important they are in your life. Each time we were together we greeted each other with a warm hug and each time we left each other we hugged and told each other ‘I love you’. I am so grateful to love you and to have your love to carry with me moving forward.
    Thank you for being my friend. I will always carry you in my heart.

  7. As you can see from reading previous comments about Mel, she was a special person. As a longtime passionate volunteer for Provender, I have known Mel since she first started bringing store staff to the Conference. She would bring large groups to the conference and quietly watch (not too closely) over them as they experienced all the aspects of Provender. Thanks to Mel and the Santa Rosa Community Market, I met some wonderful people!

    As others have already eloquently said, Mel was open and loving and kind. She saw everyone though that lens.
    She made sure I specifically, felt welcome to participate in the board their activities and decisions, even though I was never officially on the board. She invited me to even the no-official meetings! Of course, all members of the board welcome member participation!

    I’m finding it so hard for me to describe Mel, that I’ll give an example. Just before she passed, she and I had a sweet and tender text exchange that I will always treasure. I told her how much she meant to me, and how she had helped me feel more comfortable and welcomed. Here’s what she said to me “When I met you, I saw the love and caring you have. Not just for Provender, but for life. Your kindness and love and friendship have been a blessing. Wish we were closer in miles.” This says so much more about Mel than me. This is how she saw things and people.
    I am sad for us, and for this world, that we no longer have Mel here to show us how love is done! Maybe our task is to now take what Mel gave us, and share it with those who loved her, and the world she left.

  8. Dear Scarecrow,
    My world changed for the better when we met. You were my mentor, my friend, my laughing out loud buddy, my encourager, and one of my favorite people in the whole world, for real!! One of my favorite things is when someone on the board would call us both ‘Melg’. The words i write here will never be adequate in describing what you mean to me, so i will just say my world is a lot sadder without you in it, and share this quote I used to say as we parted and hugged saying our goodbys after Provender face to face board meetings so many times “And i know i will miss you most of all”

  9. Before every election, Mel would sit down at a table at Community Market and walk through the ballot, discussing issues and helping workers and friends – some of whom, first time voters – understand what they were voting for. Anyone who wanted to show up was welcome.
    Whenever I get my ballot I think of Mel and of how she modeled the importance of being an informed and active voter. Everything she put her heart into was better because of it.
    She did so much good in the world in her short life, and with so much humility and gratitude. Her life was a blessing to those who knew her.

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