Melinda S. Walsh of Weekapaug RI, 64, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday morning with friends and family by her side. Melinda was the daughter of Raycroft Walsh Jr. and Louise Shepard Walsh of West Hartford and Weekapaug, wife to Mark Bullinger of Westerly, and mother to Sophie and Sam. Melinda was technically an only child, but during high school the Walsh family hosted two German exchange students – Nicola Degen Barbut and Pia Buntgarten - who Melinda continued to consider her German sisters.
Melinda was born and raised in West Hartford, CT, where she attended the Oxford school. Melinda, whose father was a long-time engineer at Pratt & Whitney and whose grandfather had been chairman of Hamilton Standard, attended Kirkland College, in Clinton, NY, in the years before it joined with Hamilton College. She went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Simmon's College and a Master’s in Education from Harvard University. Melinda was a social worker and took great satisfaction in helping people cope with hardships and emotional setbacks. She was particularly fond of working with children in the middle and high school ages and was employed by Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut as an in-school counselor at Pawcatuck middle school.
Before settling into family life, Melinda lived in several places including Manhattan and Germany, but for the longest period in Cambridge, MA. Melinda's grandmother built a house in Weekapaug in 1954 and Melinda was a life-long presence around Weekapaug. In her youth she summered there, in adulthood she came throughout the year and in 2005 she and her family moved to the area full-time to be close to her aging parents in an area that she and her husband loved.
In the fall of 2015, Melinda was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma, and ultimately lost her right leg. By the spring of 2016, thanks to her burning determination, she had mastered her new prosthetic leg and went for her first post-surgery swim on her birthday. Her strength and perseverance during and after that experience was an inspiration to all who knew her.
A typical summer day included a three-mile walk and several ocean swims. Melinda was fiercely independent, but greatly appreciated the assistance of lifeguards and swimmers at the beach who helped her back out of the water.
Melinda also was actively involved in several social justice issues including womens’ rights, the environment and furthering the progressive agenda. She was a lifelong and devoted Red Sox fan, and found great joy when the team won the 2004 World Series championship, breaking their 86-year drought.
A deeply spiritual person, she was the president of the Weekapaug Chapel Society for seven years. She was a master at building and maintaining friendships and had circles of friends from all stages of her life. She was not a fan of electronic media and much preferred to send hand-written notes and letters, which she produced with great pleasure.
Melinda’s service will be held at the Weekapaug Chapel on Sunday August 18th at 4pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her memory to the Weekapaug Chapel, Planned Parenthood and the American Cancer Society.