IN MEMORIAM Melanie Michailidis



Photo by Tim Parker

What would you say about a young scholar who died way before her time?  That she was brilliant and learned.  That she loved traveling, Tango, medieval tomb-towers, languages, Islamic ceramics, and all mud-brick domes with intricate ornamental patterns, and not necessarily in that order.  That she was destined to become one of the most accomplished scholars in our field.  

Melanie Michailidis was killed in a car crash on February 1st in LaDue, a suburb of St. Louis, Mo., while driving with her friend Joseph Jacob.  She was the Korff Post-doctoral Fellow in Islamic Art at Washington University and the St Louis Art Museum where she was preparing the Islamic collection for the reopening of the museum next summer.  Before Washington University, Melanie taught for a year at the University of California, Davis and for two years at Carleton University as a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow. 

Melanie earned her Ph.D. degree in 2007 from MIT.  From the start, she displayed a highly developed scholarly sensitivity as well as an extraordinarily mature sense of responsibility.  Her dissertation, which focused on two groups of mausolea in Central Asia and Iran built during the period of slow conversion to Islam (9-11 century), was an exemplary research document.  Succinctly written and thoroughly researched, it convincingly argued that these variegated monuments are among the most concrete signs of the "Iranian Renaissance," which spread across the Samanid territories of Central Asia and later the Seljuk empire and resulted in profound shifts in the cultures of that vast region.  

Melanie’s superb qualities shone through every task she sets for herself.  Her teaching and curating record is exceedingly impressive.  Her language fluency was simply unmatched: how many of us can read and speak French, Russian, Greek and Persian, in addition to a reading command of five other European and Islamic languages?  We will all miss her and we are determined to see that her memory is kept alive through the completion and publication of all of her unfinished projects.

Nasser Rabbat 


February 6, 2013 1:02:46 PM EST
very sad! its true that she no more with us... but through her works she will always be there forever. may her soul be in peace.

February 6, 2013 9:51:27 PM EST
Caroline A Jones
As I wrote to her family, Melanie was a wonderful part of the HTC community. She was already an accomplished "doctorand" when I came to MIT. I found her simply lovely to be with -- whenever we had reason to meet in my office, I felt refreshed by the interaction. Her quiet humor made each little bureaucratic obstacle seem like an amusing pebble on the path -- something one might briefly pick up, observe, and then put in its place along the way, while one blithely moved ahead.
It is a good plan to publish her works, and something we can truly do as a community to make sure her voice is not stilled. Surely her lilting grace will come through in those printed words.

February 7, 2013 11:14:05 AM EST
Melanie was visiting lecturer at UC Davis at the same time I was there in a similar position. As we were having lunch together one day, we got to speak about archival research and she told me about her time in the archives in Central Asia. I was impressed: I have worked in archives too, but her words and a spark in her eyes made me think that her experience there had been superior to what I had imagined possible in archives. We talked about friendship, and I complained that temporary academic positions make it harder to invest in friendships. For how long are we going to share the same people and places? She listened sympathetically, but then she smiled and told me about her love for milongas and for tango, and again I felt that she was not afraid of challenges, that she enjoyed life at its fullest. I will miss her.

February 7, 2013 12:13:21 PM EST
Although I did not know Melanie, but her untimely death is affecting me in the same way that the unexpected loss of Ernest Pascuchi and Kristen Finnegan affected me, only to remind me of the extraordinariness of being part of this particular community. 

February 7, 2013 12:45:30 PM EST
Talinn Grigor
Melanie was a true friend and a colleague with whom I hoped to remember being a student at AKP some three decades from now. She was one of our authors in an edited book with Sussan Babaie on architecture and Iranian kingship. My heart is broken to know that she is no longer among wise, so calm, so humorous, so positive at all times. Sussan and I are determined to see her piece, In the Footsteps of the Sasanians: Funerary Architecture and Bavandid Legitimacy , with twenty illustrations and two maps, shine in our publication. And to make sure that she is remembered for the unique and true scholar with trust for knowledge that she was. During a particularly difficult time, Melanie gently smiled as she always would, and said to me, "just tango tango through life."

February 7, 2013 6:34:26 PM EST
Stacy Beckwith 
I have been so stunned and saddened by news of Melanie's passing. From her very first interview talk at Carleton I have greatly admired her extensive first hand knowledge and her gift of being able to narrate with scholarly insight and precision as well as captivating enthusiasm. She was a wonderful friend to many of us here and I will continue to think of her often.

February 7, 2013 11:13:31 PM EST
Veronica Kalas 
I am deeply saddened by this awful tragedy. I did not know Melanie well but greatly valued some exchanges we had about developments in architectural history. She was very perceptive. I still have a sketch of hers she drew for me in my notebook after a talk I gave once at CAA where I showed slides from Cappadocia. We were discussing the development of the domed, nine-bay plan in Middle Byzantine architecture and its possible Islamic antecedents. I was planning to follow up with her one day about this. I am certain that those close to her will miss her greatly. May she rest in peace. Veronica Kalas

February 8, 2013 1:39:27 AM EST
Maryam Eskandari 
Melanie, the morning I came into our studio and saw the news, an endless amount of tears flowed down my cheeks. I am going to miss the person who was always there for me when and understood my own tradition and culture better than me. I will miss your endless advise and encouragement on being the architect ambassador and preserving history. I will miss your laugh, your beautiful heart and your passion for Iran. I know that you are now in Paradise consuming Persian Pomegranates.... save some for us.... 

February 8, 2013 3:28:27 AM EST
Shiraz Allibhai 
I knew Melanie while she was a PhD candidate at MIT and remember with fondness our chance meetings in the infinite corridor. Melanie was always in a good mood, eager to share in conversation and quick with her wit. She was generous in spirit and with her knowledge. When I wanted to create a syllabus on Archnet that would be a broad survey of Islamic architecture only using materials available in the Digital Library, I approached Melanie. She created an incredible resource that remains one of the most viewed and downloaded documents on Archnet. She will be missed.

February 8, 2013 10:00:32 AM EST
T. Ravi 
I am regular visitor of AKPIA, TODAY I happened to read this,Trembling emotion that I have got, with all the caliber and qualities very few are addressed to the world, without her full contribution to the world she disappeared in sudden moment.Great disappointment for the educational world.

February 8, 2013 11:05:24 AM EST
Glaire Anderson 
Melanie was one of my oldest and very dearest friends, like a sister to me, as well as a close intellectual collaborator. It would be impossible for me to express how much I learned from Melanie intellectually and how much she meant to me personally since our first meeting, as new graduate students at MIT. We bonded very quickly, in part because we shared backgrounds in the deep south (her grandparents having lived not far from where I grew up), but also because we shared an interest in the same chronological corner of the field and in so many of the same intellectual issues. I am now all the more grateful for conversations we had over the last few years that grew from our writing group of two (which we called somewhat humorously the Tenth-Century Scribblers), and out of which our recent and forthcoming publications developed. I will miss that intellectual and personal camaraderie, and learned more from it, than I could possibly say. Besides her formidable academic talents, Melanie was a superb cook and as knowledgeable and passionate about culinary matters high and low as she was about Islamic art and architecture, tango, cats and any number of her other interests. Her enthusiasm, curiosity, openness, generosity, and warmth were seemingly inexhaustible, and she extended those qualities to everything she did and to those she knew. She was always ready to make friends, which she did with admirable ease. She was always ready for adventure, and took such pleasure in travel. Personal discomfort, inconvenience, the possibility of danger - these things had no effect on her. She was full of excitement at discoveries she d made during recent research trips to Russia and India. It means a great deal that a memorial will be held for her at MIT, an institution that meant so much to her intellectually and personally. She was very devoted to the AKPIA@MIT community, took great pride in her association with it, and was greatly sustained by her relationships there. She also first learned tango, which became such a sustaining and central part of her life, through the MIT Argentine Tango Club. There s so much more I would like to say, but I will end by saying that Melanie was incomparable, truly a formidable scholar and person in the best sense of that word. Her loss is devastating and she leaves many of us bereft.

February 8, 2013 12:35:45 PM EST
Alison Kettering 
Melanie was my colleague at Carleton College from 2007 to 2009 and my friend ever since. While at Carleton, she proved to be a truly inspiring teacher. She introduced many enthusiastic students to architecture across cultures and a grateful number of others to the finer points of Islamic art and architecture. One of them just told how Melanie s classes affected so many of her academic decisions in the past few years. The students loved her cooking, too, for she had a habit of inviting classes over for dinner. Despite an energetic travel schedule, she never revealed any signs of fatigue, but was instead unfailingly lively, generous, collegial, and warm. I should also mention her love of cats, her own Shira in particular. Tango was another matter, for her passion developed later. That was the most delightful surprise of all, an enthusiasm I only learned about this past December when I visited her in St. Louis. I remember the expression on her face when a new pair of tango sho!
es arrived in the mail, the delight when she played tango CDs in the car, and her stories about the subtleties of the dance. But I suppose I shouldn t have been surprised given what I already knew about Melanie s fearlessness, her spirit of adventure, and her embrace of the fullness of life.

February 8, 2013 10:39:28 PM EST
Pamela Karimi
Iran and Iranians will miss you and your contributions to the history of that country. This is to you my friend: "The Friend" by Iranian poet, Sohrab Sepehri- She was grand. She was a noble native of today. She was grand. Her realm was all boundless spheres, And she sensed, so intensely, the ways of water and earth. She was like the rain- full of the freshness of flow. She was like trees- spread in the ease of lights. Many times we saw: with plenty of wooden baskets, she left to gather bushes of golden plaques Instead she went to the limits of naught and laid in the wake of white serenity of lights. And she didn t know that we would be left extremely alone. We are now left massively alone. 

February 8, 2013 10:56:36 PM EST
Jennifer Ferng 
I am saddened to hear of Melanie's passing. She was a kind friend to me when I first began the PhD program at MIT. Melanie was always up for birthday parties, nights out as well as lengthy conversations about anything architecture and art related. She always offered generous advice on the career path through academia. For the longest time, I believed she was British which made her witticisms even better. She will be sorely missed. 

February 10, 2013 6:21:37 PM EST
Jennifer Pruitt 
I have known Melanie for ten years and will miss her dearly. I first got to know Melanie in the summer of 2002, when we were both studying Arabic in Cairo. Although we were not in the same class, we frequently met on the weekends to roam the streets and explore the city's rich medieval monuments. Even during this extremely busy time of intense studying and city exploration, Melanie found time to volunteer for a local nonprofit group, which addressed animal welfare in Cairo. She adored even the most unlovable of street cats. One of my most treasured memories of that summer was the day we escaped the crushing heat and chaos of the city by ducking into the calm of the fourteenth-century Maridani Mosque. We sat in the sanctuary of this mosque for a long time, admiring its gorgeous wooden screen, chatting about our families, our work, our hopes for the future. I will never forget that moment. I also had the great fortune to climb Mt. Sinai with Melanie. We watched the sunrise, went back down the mountain, only to wonder what is this giant wall? I didn t see this going up. Of course, we soon realized we were walking on the outskirts of St. Catherine s monastery. We were a giddy couple of medieval art historians, wandering through the complex together, admiring its treasures, and finally ending the long day at the beach. Days don t get much better. Since that summer, I have worked with Melanie, exchanged ideas with her, laughed with her, and shared frustrations with her. She was a great colleague and friend throughout these years, but it was that summer I will remember most of all. Rest in peace, Melanie. 

February 11, 2013 7:32:12 PM EST
Aden Kumler 
I met Melanie during the academic year that we were both in residence at CASVA. Sharing an office with Melanie was one of the great pleasures of that year. I came to look forward to hearing about Melanie's many adventures - both those relating to her field work, but also the ongoing saga of the vexatious conditions of apartment living in DC, her diplomatic successes and alliance building among the many different reading rooms she had to negotiate at the Library of Congress do her work. and her hours working at the Freer & Sackler. I came to depend that year upon Melanie's knack, with a quirked eyebrow and an impish twinkle in her eye could, for quietly and humorously putting in perspective life's vexations, a pompous comment, or some other absurdity of the academic or bureaucratic routine. Above all else, however, I was deeply impressed that year, in every year since, by Melanie's combination of scholarly rigor and her personal warmth, sympathy, and gentleness in her dealing!
s with other people and other creatures. Few scholars combine such exacting standards and such humane generosity. When I had lunch with her in St Louis last spring, I was struck once again by her vivacity, her infectious sense of adventure and intellectual pleasure, and by her characteristic combination of erudition and true good humor. That day she was in high spirits, talking about travel, about life in St Louis, about discoveries she was making in the museum's collection and about all kinds of exciting plans for the future; it was wonderful to spend the afternoon with her. It is very, very hard to fathom that she is no longer with us: the world is a less welcoming, less witty, less passionate place without her.

February 12, 2013 7:17:58 AM EST
Erdem Erten 
I waited for a peaceful moment to write about Melanie. I wanted to write something that would be worthy of the calm and joy in those brief but lovely conversations at the HTC "kennel," that she made others feel. It seems, it will never come. Forgive me, if I am clumsy in doing this. I am not surprised to see that everyone who has written about her talk about her curiosity, because I remember her asking many questions about Turkey. I was surprised instead to see how much she knew about where I came from. I vividly remember her telling me how difficult it was for her to carry the chadore on top of her head and move through the streets of Yazd, anxious that she might lose control of it, but laughing out loud after the experience. She turned it into a really funny story. Her energy, her youth was so remarkable and enviable. It was only a week before her death that Melanie sent me a friendship request from Facebook and I was really happy to reconnect. I had not heard from her s!
ince I left MIT in 2004. Couple of days after we visited Spain, and I was boasting to my friends there that I knew a little about Mudejar architecture, which I had heard for the first time from her during one of those conversations. The day after, the e-mail from Nasser arrived. I do not know how to make any sense of this. Looking at the love that now surrounds her memory, I feel proud to be within her circle of friends. So long, dear friend... 

February 12, 2013 6:52:33 AM EST
Irene Fatsea
Although I had no chance to cross paths with late Melanie Michailidis and have no memories to share, I do
share in the department's grieving of her untimely loss. If there is a list of condolences, please, add my
name to it. 

February 13, 2013 1:31:08 PM EST
Lara Tohme 
I was very fortunate to have known Melanie for over ten years. It is hard to put in to words all the fond memories I have of our friendship. I will always cherish my many long conversations with Melanie about our shared passions for cooking, travel and medieval architecture. I will think of her often. 

February 14, 2013 9:32:20 PM EST
eric johnson 
It s been almost two weeks, and I am still in a state of complete disbelief regarding the death of my close, dear friend Melanie. Ours was a unique relationship: I truly loved her and still do. I remember an indomitable spirit who embraced every moment fully. What an amazing person she was: a soul so generous, an intelIect so unpretentious. I now remember those long walks we took on the beach together when she first visited me in southern California over two years ago: she loved the feel of wet sand between her toes and the warmth of the sun s rays against her face. I will always remember those wonderful meals we prepared together (I still have the apricot chutney spice jar in my cupboard that she left behind never used since). I also remember those many unexpected phone calls from her, over the years, when she wanted me to know she was enjoying a glass of some Argentinian/Spanish red she found for a bargain at this or that market. But most of all, I remember Melanies laugh: a slightly muffled delicious chuckle. A delicious chuckle I can hear now and forever. Rest well, my friend.

February 18, 2013 9:21:48 PM EST
Janna Israel 
I will always remember the magisterial lecture Melanie gave, without notes, in an undergraduate class soon after she began at MIT. I still remember the images, and I still think of her lecture as an example of great teaching to which I aspire. I hosted Melanie a few years ago in Washington while she was there for a conference or research. I was struck by how happy and positive she seemed about work and life. She said that she felt that every year was getting better, even with the stresses and vagaries of academia. I will always appreciate that Melanie was as good a listener as she was a talker.

February 19, 2013 3:07:39 PM EST
Zeynep Celik 
It's heartbreaking that such talent and intelligence left us so early. Like others who shared the Kennel with Melanie, I will never forget her remarkable generosity and sense of humor--fortunately, I can still hear her lovely laugh. 

February 19, 2013 2:22:23 PM EST
Lina Sergie Attar
This is so sad and devastating. I'm so sorry and wish that I could have been there. Melanie was a sweet and brilliant young woman and she will be missed.

February 20, 2013 7:28:44 AM EST
Ladan Akbarnia 
I met Melanie over 10 years ago, during my first year of graduate school at Harvard and Melanie's year at the Sackler Museum (where she curated a beautiful exhibition on Islamic metalwork), just before she started the program at MIT. Although I never knew her well, she was a familiar face as we often crossed paths due to our interests in medieval Iran as well as in the museum world. Last October, I remember talking to Melanie about her move to St. Louis, where I had gone to high school, and how she was adjusting to life in the Midwest. She always struck me as someone genuinely happy with any context she found herself in -- and I imagine much of that was because she made any context she entered a more desirable one simply by virtue of her contributions as a scholar and a genuinely kind person. In spite of a deceivingly quiet demeanor, she had a strong and articulate presentation style, which I greatly admired. And the memory that will remain etched in my mind about Melanie will be the conversation we had about her 'side' interest in tango. I would have loved to have a professor like Melanie, who was not only a brilliant scholar but an individual who embraced life with the same amount of passion and dedication as she embraced her career. Rest in peace, Melanie, and my deepest condolences to your and Joseph's families.

February 20, 2013 6:39:13 PM EST
Omid Rezania 
I met Melanie for the first time while visiting British Museum in 1998. I saw a sign noting that there is going to be a tour of Islamic collection starting in a few minutes, so I went and joined the tour. Melanie was the tour guide, something that she used to do as a volunteer some weekends. We talked and had coffee after the tour, and kept in touch. Few months later, Melanie moved in with me in my flat in London, and we lived together for the next 12 years or so, in UK and later in US. We got very amicably separated couple of years back, but stayed in touch as best friends. In all our years, we never stopped loving each other, and never doubted each other s integrity or intellect. In my 26 years of life in Iran, I never met anyone who was so well informed and passionately enjoyed the history and art of Islam and in particular Iran. It was because of her that I found an appreciation for Islamic art. We drank wine in Alhambra where I learned about Islam s influence in S!
pain , smoked shisha and drank Turkish coffee in Turkey where I learned about Turkish dynasties, had many cups of green tea in Bukhara and Samarqand where I would recite Persian poetry about those cities and she would tell me of their history. She was full of life, lived passionately and made life more pleasant for those who knew her. She truly appreciated the beauty in arts and particularly Islamic arts. She loved Persian poetry and knew quite a few by heart. Last Nowrooz ( Iranian new year which occurs on the first day of Spring), I wrote these 3 lines for her. The last verse refers to us all turning into dust and that we must try to leave a fond memory in others hearts. Nowrooz comes again in a month, but it would not be the same without her:

February 22, 2013 12:14:09 PM EST
Alicia Walker 
After I received the shocking news of Melanie's death, and mourned and remembered her in the days that followed, I reached back to the first time I met her in the galleries of the Sackler Museum at Harvard where I was a graduate student and curatorial fellow and she a pre-doctoral curatorial fellow in the year before she entered MIT's program. I couldn't remember the year (it turns out this was around 2001-2002), only that this was a long, long time ago, and I think now of all the ways our lives have changed and grown and overlapped in the years since. During that time at the Sackler, we would meet to chat about the exhibitions we were working on, the insecurities we felt as we learned the ropes of museum work and prepared to exhibit, really expose, these objects and ideas we had curated. I remember talking about the color schemes for our shows and her mix of excitement and trepidation about the purple-pink palette that infused her exhibition. I remember walking into "her" gallery for the first time and thinking how bold and how beautiful the installation was and how differently it made me look at these metal objects as works of luxury and refinement. Melanie began at MIT as I was finishing up at Harvard, and although we didn't remain close in those years, she delighted me whenever our paths crossed. I was always charmed by what I can only describe as her demure grit, she seemed so fragile and sweet at first impression, like a life-sized China doll, but after only the briefest of exchanges one was reminded that she was a force to be reckoned with. She was smart about things that most smart people know nothing about. She took interest in things at the margins--like homeless cats and Samanid architecture--and she nursed those things intellectually and personally so that others could grow to appreciate them and see their value. We lost touch for many years after graduate school, but in the way that academic life loops us back to old connections, I found myself on the selection committee for the fellowship she eventually took in St Louis. I remember how excited I was when my eyes first fell on her application, how interested I was to learn of what she had been up to in the years since we had last been in touch, and how fortunate we were to have someone of her caliber interested in the position. I remember how energized I was by her job talk, and how I wooed her to take the position by assuring her that I could guarantee not only the availability of pomegranate syrup in the STL metro area but the specific store where she could buy Persian, Turkish, and Indian varieties. I panicked when she asked if I knew anything about the Tango scene, but a quick Google search laid her concern to rest. She took the job. Melanie's visit to St Louis and the non-pomegranate/tango conversations we had about our work and research interests set in motion a personal renaissance for us. We exchanged references and then works in progress. We spoke on panels with one another, collaborated on a publication, and consoled and counseled about the everyday challenges of academic life. We realized that we were both obsessed with the tenth century and bonded over it as though we had gone to the same elementary school but only realized it in adulthood, exchanging random details and exploring connections that few others would find of interest. I was so excited about all she was doing in St Louis and so gratified to know it was a place where she was, it seemed, really happy. It was only in these most recent years that I learned Melanie was originally from the South. Her sister mentioned to me a few weeks ago that Melanie's family always called her by her middle name, Dawn, and that her maiden name was Grimsley. In putting this all together, I felt that I understood and appreciated Melanie in a new, clearer light, as the steel magnolia that she always was underneath the accent that followed her from London and the intellectual and personal passions that she cultivated after leaving Georgia and Tennessee. Dawn Grimsley. Melanie Michailidis. It is so good to read others' thoughts and memories about Melanie, to know her now in ways I didn't have the chance to before and to come to realize the ways I did know her that I had taken for granted. It is very, very hard to accept that she is gone, and it is very consoling to see how she will live on through all the people that she touched, who knew her and loved her and appreciated her in these diverse and beautiful ways. 

February 23, 2013 4:25:57 PM EST
Mitra N Forouhar 
I was lucky to have had her friendship and feel deeply wounded by her loss. She was a kind, generous, thoughtful, interesting and caring friend. Melanie will always be in my heart. I feel that no words are adequate to express the void left by her loss, so I close with this Native American prayer: I give you this one thought to keep -- I am with you still I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow, I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning s hush, I am the swift, uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not think of me as gone I am with you still in each new dawn.

March 5, 2013 10:01:34 AM EST
Bahar Yolac 
I happened to know Dr. Michailidis at my seminar on Islamic topics with Dr. Anderson who invited her to our session on Islamic mausolea. At that time I was preparing a paper on the Seljuks. Not knowing Persian I was frustrated with my subject. She was so generous of spending one hour with me at the Starbucks / Chapel Hill, showing me alternative research methods, sources. She was so intelligent and erudite, yet she passed her knowledge with such an elegance, softness and modesty. She was like a comet who crossed my path for a short period of time, yet illuminated it beautifully. 

March 15, 2013 3:35:39 PM EDT
Christine O'Malley 
I met Melanie in 2007 when she was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Carleton College and I was teaching across the river at St. Olaf College. She kindly agreed to give a guest lecture about her research on medieval tomb-towers to an undergraduate architectural history class that I was teaching. I was so impressed by her research and her clear presentation to the students who were encountering this material for the first time. She knew that many of the names, dynasties and terms were new to the students, so she very helpfully shared a copy of her lecture with the students and provided extra images for them to view. It was a pleasure to have such a generous scholar as a guest and she opened our eyes to a whole new world of medieval architecture. I was amazed by her command of so many languages and her intrepid research travels. Most of all, she was an incredibly kind, warm and interesting person. The news of her death is so sad and I know that she will be missed greatly by many. I feel lucky to have met her and I'm so sorry she is no longer here to share her many passions and interests with all. Such a loss.

March 18, 2013 7:15:46 PM EDT
Jody P. Ono 
Melanie and I met in 2009/2010 in Davis, California and quickly became friends discussing everything from global politics to cats to dating. Melanie was an extraordinary person and we had the rarest, most special relationship. I will always consider her one of my closest friends and will miss her deeply.

February 19, 2013 3:07:39 PM EST
Zeynep Celik 
It's heartbreaking that such talent and intelligence left us so early. Like others who shared the Kennel with Melanie, I will never forget her remarkable generosity and sense of humor--fortunately, I can still hear her lovely laugh. 

July 6, 2013 6:35:53 PM EDT
Haris Michaelides 
I am shocked and horrified to find out what happened to my dear Dawn and that this tragic event has happened five months ago. I had a bad feeling lingering in me, since it had been a while back since we exchanged emails. When I mentioned it to my wife, she said that that was so out of her character not to reply and that she would do a name search on the internet. We were both shocked and horrified to hear of what has happened to her. I first met Dawn at the beginning of my third year as an undergraduate student at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Tn. I still remember the first time we met on a weekend evening with her big smile and laughter and how inquisitive and knowledgeable she already was about the island of Cyprus, the place where I was born and raised. Deep down, I knew that night that our paths would follow the same route for a while but in all honesty I did not know if it was something that would last forever. She was then studying political science and I wa!
s studying business administration. Our relationship grew stronger by the day and not before long we were considered an item. I met her parents shortly after our relationship was established and it did not take them long before they realised how much we were in love and inseparable. Whenever they invited me over for the Christmas holidays or Thanksgiving they would treat me like their Son-In-Law. After we completed our studies, I had no choice but to return to Cyprus and start looking for a job. Dawn had already expressed her interest in pursuing further her education for a Masters degree in California. The separation was unbearable on both sides. We kept writing letters to each other every week hoping that we could comfort each other with our weekly news and events. It was not long before we decided that we could meet each other half way, in London, England. We soon got married and settled down to our jobs. I worked in Banking and Dawn worked for The Brooke Hospital for Animals which was a charitable organisation. We decided to adopt our first cat together since we were both fanatical cat lovers from an early age. She was called Sophie and she was a beautiful tabby cat full of character. During our time together we travelled a lot, not only to see our relatives to the USA and Cyprus but we also went places that I would never even imagined in my wildest dreams such as Uzbekistan and Russia just after the collapse of the USSR. We climbed the Acropolis in Greece, the Great Wall of China as well as the ancient fort of Masada, Israel. We walked on the red square and visited countless museums and art galleries in many other European and non-European countries. The list is endless, if I could all remember it so many years ago. It was as if we have done everything that we needed to do together and after about 11 years we both decided we had to go our separate ways. It was a painfully emotional separation but somehow understanding each other s reasoning for doing so helped us overcome our anxiety and ended it as friends. We both, soon after, ended up in new serious relationships but we kept our friendship going. I don t know how long I can hold those tears back, but I think I can t. You were one in a million. Thank you for everything and God bless your soul. 

July 21, 2013 11:20:04 AM EDT
Holly Jackson-Sullivan 
I went to high school and undergrad at the University of Tennessee with "Dawn." I knew how brilliant she was the first time I met her. She was a tiny thing with naturally curly hair that she always hatedm - with an amazing desire for knowledge and adventure. Dawn was a great debate partner and a wonderful friend. In college I told her she was crazy for taking four language in one semester - but she aced all of them. I last saw Dawn in the mid 90's after I had just lost my Dad. She came to visit friends and family in Knoxville - as she had a month long vacation from her work in London. She also needed to buy clothes as she could never find her tiny sizes except in the children's department in London. We reconnected like we had never been apart. Year later my mom and sister had coffee with her when they visit London. She has always been in my mind. About two years ago, I tried unsuccessfully to find her on Facebook, Linked-In, etc. I contacted her sister and asked if she!
could send Dawn a message that I was looking for her...sadly I never heard back. I continued to google her from time to time and sadly found this page today. There is a hole in my heart. I wish I had known, I wish our paths had crossed more. It is incredible to read what an amazing scholar she was - I am so honored to have known her. 

July 21, 2013 8:05:08 PM EDT
Terri Clark Harris 
I have been looking for Dawn for many years and I am devastated to learn her life ended less than 300 miles from me. Thank you to each and every one of you who have shared your beautiful memories of Melanie. I am so grateful to read from all of you how my beautiful friend lived her life. To return the favor of sharing Melanie with me, I will tell you about Dawn. She was 15 years old when I first met her in high school. She was introduced to me as my new debate partner, a new kid in school from Pineville, Louisiana. We quickly became best friends. We we could talk for hours about everything from hot rollers to the arms race between India & Pakistan. We took turns playing the Easter bunny at the mall and even, suffered ugly polyester uniforms to work together at Burger King. Dawn was a girly-girl who loved hair, clothes, and make-up. Yet, she was one of the most studious people I have ever known. She would bring a giant western civ book to a slumber party. And in the middle of a gossip session, she would ask if we knew that mid century convents were really brothels? Somehow, that was the perfect thing to say and made us all laugh. Dawn was a voracious reader but she was definitely not an introvert. She was asthmatic as a child with an overprotective or maybe some might even say an overbearing mother. She had an award for winning a spelling bee. I asked her how she became such a good speller and she said she memorized the entire dictionary one summer when confined to her room. In high school, we talked our parents into dropping us off at the campus library at UT where we would vacillate between debate research and flirting with college boys. We were very successful at both. She was always up for an adventure and we were often partners in crime. I will always treasure those memories but probably won't share the details of smart girls gone wild! Dawn and I went our separate ways midway through college. When we graduated, I knew she had outgrown our friendship and maybe even herself. I feel like Dawn Grimsley had been waiting and preparing her whole life to become Melanie Michailidis. And what a wonderfully adventuresome life Melanie would live! I am so happy for my friend, she deserved every single moment of it. Looking back, it was a privilege just to have seen the dawn of Melanie's life. To get a glimpse of the bright, successful, scholar that Dawn would become. But now, my heart is broken to learn that I will never have the opportunity to know her as an adult. Somehow, the day has slipped away and a terrible storm has ruined any chances of seeing the sun set.