Melissa Lynne Hayes, a vibrant and passionate New Yorker with a love for all things Halloween, passed away on August 17, 2023, at the age of 49. Born on January 14, 1974, in Rome, New York, she was the daughter of Douglas and Darlene Areskog. Melissa's vibrant spirit, love for family, and zest for life left an indelible mark on everyone fortunate enough to know her.
Melissa's devotion to her family was unmatched. She was a devoted mother to her son Angelo, who was the center of her universe. Her unwavering support and fierce protection defined her role as a mother, leaving an everlasting impact on her beloved son.
However, if there was one thing that encapsulated Melissa's essence, it was her adoration for Halloween. She embodied the holiday's spirit year-round, sharing her passion with the students at Austin Elementary, where her home's Halloween displays were cherished by all. Her enthusiasm for the eerie and whimsical inspired admiration and letters from her young neighbors, further emphasizing her unique connection with the community.
Music was another one of Melissa's passions, with a special love for Dave Matthews Band and Shane Smith & the Saints. "All I See Is You" by Shane Smith & the Saints became a cherished song between her and her husband Keith. Her deep appreciation for nature manifested in her love for camping, particularly in the Adirondack Mountains. Her dream of becoming part of nature will come true through the Living Urn program, where she will grow into a Weeping Willow tree, her spirit forever intertwined with the environment she cherished.
Melissa's affection for animals, particularly cats, was well-known, earning her the title of the "crazy cat lady." Her adventurous spirit led her across the globe, from Hawaii to Italy and beyond. Her Italian heritage shone through her culinary prowess, though her inability to cook in small portions only added to her charm and warmth.
A free spirit and lover of the outdoors, Melissa reveled in the open road on her Harley-Davidson motorcycle, always seeking the next great adventure. Professionally, she excelled as a cosmetologist, graduating from the Paul Mitchell School. In recent years, she found fulfillment as the Office Manager at Billy Olson Bail Bonds.
Melissa is survived by her loving husband, Keith Hayes; her cherished son, Angelo Moreno; her stepdaughter, Kalei Hayes; her mother, Darlene Areskog: her father and step-mother Douglas and Diane Areskog; her sisters, Heather Schmoke and husband James Moss, Julie Campbell and husband Casey, Jessica Ashdown and husband Jacob; her brothers, Michael JaQuays and wife Alycia and Rocky Lamascolo; her grandmother, Carol Hellmers; her best friends, Michelle Allen and Allison Fitzwilliam; along with numerous extended family members, nieces, nephews, and friends.
She was preceded in death by her "bonus parents", Robert and Gail Allen; her grandparents, Eddie and Rosemarie Markstaller, Edward and Marie Areskog, Practica Areskog, and Amil Hellmers.
Melissa's departure leaves an irreplaceable void in the lives of all who knew her, but her vibrant spirit, love for life, and passion for Halloween will continue to inspire and resonate in the hearts of those she touched. She will forever be remembered for her unique way of infusing joy into every moment and for teaching us the value of celebrating life, just as she celebrated her favorite holiday.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations be made to your local humane society or other groups that care for animals in memory of Melissa.
A celebration of Melissa's life will take place on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in the Elmwood Funeral Home Chapel. Friends and family are invited to gather and share their cherished memories of our own "Wednesday Addams" who made every day a celebration of life's wonders.