Melissa Jane Thurlow Yerxa

Text size

Melissa Jane Thurlow Yerxa

January 22, 2019

Bangor - Melissa Jane Thurlow Yerxa, 71, passed away on January 22, 2019, under the loving care of her son, Terrell Anderson, and her partner of 20 years, Steve Hendershott.

Melissa held many titles: social worker, back-to-the-lander, political activist, breast cancer survivor. The one she held most dear was "mother". She is remembered by her children as an avid reader - breezing through multiple books a week - a history buff, and an exceptional cook.

She was born December 3, 1947, in Farmington, Maine, the daughter of Dr. Charles E. and Myrtle A. Thurlow. Melissa graduated early from Phillips High School and the University of Maine, where she studied history and English. At UMaine, she took part in the late 1960s counterculture movement and carried these ideals with her for the rest of her life.

A dedicated social worker serving Washington, Hancock, and Aroostook counties, she worked with children with special needs for over 40 years, including 31 years for the state, earning the Governor's Longevity Award for Public Service. She served on boards dedicated to alleviating poverty and improving education, and surrounded herself with peers who also sought to improve their communities.

A lover of rock music, Melissa was one of the founding members of the Cooper Hill Music Festival and a devoted attendee of the Rockport Blues Festival. Her friends and family include several musicians and she enjoyed listening to them play late into the night.

Melissa was predeceased by her parents, Dr. Charles and Myrtle Thurlow; and her oldest sister, Susan Spencer. She is survived by her partner, Steve Hendershott; her three beloved children, Shyla Yerxa, Elizabeth Chabe, and Terrell Anderson, and their partners; her grandchild, Sylvan Cody; her brother Norman Thurlow and sister Margaret Richman; and countless relatives, friends and colleagues.

Trips to libraries and bookstores were weekly occurrences in her household. Melissa's children cherish these memories and are donating her large book collection to the local library.

Family and friends are welcome to attend a celebration of Melissa's life beginning at 1 PM Saturday, February 9, 2019, at the Cobscook Community Learning Center, 10 Commissary Point Road, Lubec, ME.
Published on February 4, 2019
Send flowers
in memory of Melissa
See more

Obituary published in

Arrangements by



Print Guestbook

Share your condolences and special memories.
The guestbook expires on May 05, 2019.

Select an emblem

15 posts

Feb 12, 2019
Oh Melissa... I remember the Cooper Hill Festivities and all the music that we shared. So sorry to hear the news of your death.
Susan Field
Feb 12, 2019
Grew up with the Thurlows. Still friends with her brother who lives nearby. Worked for awhile with Shyla, a wonderful human being. Melissa was the little sister who joined in when Susan, Margaret and I sang sitting on the floor in their living room. Rest In Peace, sweet soul.
Nancy Oden
Feb 11, 2019
RIP, Melissa. You had an interesting and helping-others life. May you be blessed wherever you are.
Kerry and Mika
Feb 11, 2019
Sending condolences with our love and fond memories.
Joyce Potter
Feb 08, 2019
My condolences to Melissa's family. Melissa was a good friend. In high school, we shared cheerleading, plays and other teenage adventures. She is in many of my favorite memories. I'm sure she earned her wings and will be missed by many. Fly high, Melissa!!
Peter Frend
Feb 08, 2019
A sweet girl and classmate. RIP Melissa
Neil Davis
Feb 06, 2019
The winter of 1972 we all lived together in Cutler. Melissa was house mother and great cook. We played music, told stories and contemplated a greater existence. Our dogs, Karma and Sebastian played in the yard. We took long walks along the coast trail toward Trescot. What a beautiful memory. Thanks Melissa, you are the gift that keeps on giving.
Jennifer Stinson
Feb 05, 2019
Since the day I heard of Melissa’s passing this tune has been playing softly in my head; I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow---
Leapin and hoppin' on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow---
Like the like the lyrics of the song, Melissa emanated the unique quality of being completely hopeful and realistic at the same time. A quality that served her well in life.
Thanks Melissa for sharing your love of clams with me, music and your daughter Shyla all things I treasure to this day.
Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light.
Did it take long to find me? And are you gonna stay the night?
Feb 05, 2019
Sock It to Me Sunshine was a hit when I 1st met Melissa in 1968. I knew her through many phases of life and wish her peace on her final journey.
Reenie Sullivan
Feb 05, 2019
Hard to fathom. What an amazing woman. May her spirit live on, and May she forgive me.
Feb 05, 2019
Sweet Melissa. Peace-nik. Lover of life. Friend. You are well equipped for your next journey. Give my love to Doug when you find him. You will be missed here but I'll catch you on the flip-side. Love, M
Ginette Rivard
Feb 05, 2019
I had the good fortune of work8ng with Melissa for a n7mber of years. Her commitment to her work and the children and families she served was unwavering. She always went the extra mile. My deepest condolences to her family. M
Mary Alice Adamson
Feb 05, 2019
Melissa was a kindred spirit. I am so sorry she left us early and am thinking about all of you.
Feb 05, 2019
Love & Light
Christine Sapiel
Feb 05, 2019
Melissa, thank you for raising such a beautiful daughter-in-law for us. Our hearts couldn't be prouder. Our heartfelt condolences go out to your family. May you rest in peace dear woman.