Howard B. Rodgers-Melnick
December 16, 2016

Funeral Information

December 21 2016 - 11:00 am
Beth Israel Cemetery, Washington, PA


RODGERS-MELNICK HOWARD B.:  Age 70, died December 16, 2016 in Family Hospice after a short struggle with lung cancer but a nearly lifelong battle with Tourette Syndrome and related neurological disorders. He had always said he wanted his epitaph to be, like the old Timex commercials, "He took a licking, but kept on ticking." Born in Laconia, NH, on April 16, 1946, he was the son of Louis Melnick and Sally Kopelowitz Melnick. An honors student, despite learning disabilities that would not be diagnosed for decades, he was part of a state champion high school debate team. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in history from Bates College, where he had been a Dana Scholar. He started a doctoral program at Brandeis University in comparative history of the Middle East, but was unable to complete it due to his yet-undiagnosed disorders. He had a strong Jewish cultural identity, was very proud of his heritage and concerned about the welfare of the State of Israel. He taught high school in Belmont, NH, then began a career in hotel management, which he eventually taught at Johnson & Wales College. During this period he was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, which had first manifested when he was six, and which causes multiple physical and vocal tics.  He became a volunteer advocate for those with Tourette Syndrome, and also for disability rights in general, working on behalf of the Orphan Drug Bill and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because music and rhythmic movement relieved his Tourette symptoms, he took up aerobics and became a popular instructor at a Laconia health club. Married in 1984, he moved to Fort Myers, Fla., where he was a teachers aide at a public high school for pregnant students and new mothers. He brought his infant son to the school nursery because the principal wanted him to show the students that men could care for babies. He was a superb cook. He moved to Washington County in 1988, living first in Buffalo Township, then in Peters. His favorite activity was community theater, and he performed with the Center Stage Players, the Washington Community Theater, the Old Schoolhouse Players and with the Little Lake Theater. His lead roles included Charlie Anderson in Shenandoah with Washington Community Theater and the title role in I'm Not Rappaport at Little Lake Theater. His most recent role was as Stephen Hopkins in an Old Schoolhouse production of 1776 in the summer of 2015. Following a divorce, he moved to South Fayette. Despite escalating health issues, in 2014 he was able to attend the national conference of the Tourette Association of America in Washington DC, with his son, Sam. A smoker since his teens, he had quit four months ago but was diagnosed with lung cancer less than a week before his death. His family is profoundly grateful to the nursing staff on unit 5E of St. Clair Hospital, especially Laura, for the amazing depth of their compassion, understanding and skill. He is survived by his sons Eli Rodgers-Melnick (Sarah Kotcon) of Johnston, IA and Samuel Rodgers-Melnick (Kim) of Cleveland Heights, Ohio; a step-sister, Deena Clevenson of Gardner, MA; a step-brother Larry Clevenson Santa Ynez, CA; two nieces Eleza Lustgarten (Eric) of Brookline, MA and Richelle Caplan (Kimmy) of Jerusalem, Israel; and his former wife and continuing friend, Ann Rodgers Redd. He was preceded in death by his sister, Marilyn Budd. Graveside Services and Interment at Beth Israel Cemetery, Washington, PA on Wednesday at 11 AM. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Tourette Association of America through their website at www.tourette.org or mailed to 42-40 Bell Blvd., Suite 205, Bayside, NY 11361. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. www.schugar.com

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Sam and Eli: You know my thoughts and prayers are with you. Your father played an important part of my life from the time we were very young children. As first cousins, we shared so many experiences, and conversations. We shared our emotions, fears, joys, sorrows, and laughter. I admire his indomitable spirit, and his many gifts and talents. I hold on to so many memories, one of my favorites, dancing with him during the summers at Weirs Beach when we were teenagers. In every phone conversation we had, he first wanted to talk about the two of you. He was so proud of the men you have become, as well as all your many gifts, talents and accomplishments. His love for you was infinite. May your father's memory always be a blessing. Love, Carol

By Carol Melnick - December 21, 2016

Howard was my first cousin and a very special person. He was very smart, keenly intellectual, politically savvy, very funny and multi-talented. He was a joy to be around and I will always cherish the times I spent with him. I will miss him dearly. Zichro livracha. May his memory be blessed and may peace be upon him.

By Philip Kopel - December 21, 2016

I worked with Howard at Little Lake and enjoyed seeing him act at other theatres. He was a pleasure to work with. My deepest sympathy.

By Lee Wilson - December 19, 2016

I am saddened to learn of your father's death. I am one of the cousins - I participated in many vacation monopoly games and song fests with your father and Carol, and I personally can vouch for her claim that she laughed until soda came out her nose. We all had such fun times together! He will be greatly missed.

By Audrey Melnick Schneider - December 19, 2016

Howard and I were cousins. Hung together in New Hampshire in the sixties. Always enjoyed his company. May you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem .

By Peter G Berman - December 19, 2016

I attended your parents' wedding, but only knew your father slightly — when he was living with your grandmother and Henry Clevenson. Sam, my father, was one of Henry's brothers. Like so many things in life— too short— I expected that I might meet with him again.... I am saddened to hear of his death. May his memory be as a blessing to you. Baruch Dayan Emet.

By Laurie Clevenson - December 18, 2016

My sincere sympathies to you, Sam and Eli on the passing of your father. I have worked on stage with your father at OSP many years ago in the production of "Barefoot in the Park". I remember how he loved you boys(now men) and how very proud he was of you both. We were very honored to have had your Dad act with us at OSP and will remember him fondly. Sincerely, Marilyn McClain

By Marilyn McClain of Hickory, Pa. - December 17, 2016

Sam. He sounds like a wonderful man with deep charitable and compassionate heart history. So sorry for your loss of this amazing human being you called and is known as you beloved father. Cherish the time and memories you have of him. God bless you and your family. brother.

By Pam Scott - December 17, 2016