Melissa passed peacefully into the arms of her loving Savior, Jesus Christ about 11:15 AM, on April 13, 2018 at Memorial Hospital where she was confined from a brief illness.
Melissa was born in Gulfport, MS on Sept. 29, 1967 to J. Allen Mason, Jr. and Betty A. Mason. She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Lewis C. and Mary S. Kinsey of Gulfport, and Jesse Allen and Nellie Mason, of Brandon.
She is survived by her parents; her sister, Karen Mason Street (James), of Shubuta; her brother, Keith Allen Mason, of Gulfport; a niece, Julia Fairley Speed (Randy) and their two children, Camille and Davis.; many aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends who loved her.
Melissa was an amazing little lady! She lost her sight at age nine from surgery for a brain tumor. She survived 35 cobalt treatments and continued to excel in school. She attended regular school in Gulfport City School System.
In 1980, she was given the awesome privilege to meet her IDOL, Donnie Osmond, as she was selected to present the keys to the Cities of the Gulf Coast at his plane when he landed at the Gulfport Airport to emcee the Miss USA Beauty Pageant.
Melissa was recognized again several years later in the Sun Herald by her Home Economics teacher. She had a sewing project in her class to make an apron, competing against sighted girls, completing her project while being completely blind. She later moved to Nashville, TN, where she graduated from the Tennessee School for the Blind.
Melissa then attended and graduated from the Tennessee Blind Business Enterprise training school and was awarded her own business in the State Rehabilitation office in downtown Nashville. In 1991, she moved to Alabama with her family and was then required to go through Alabama’s work adjustment and Business program and was awarded her own business in the Shelby County area, with a start- up business with seven vending machines. She operated the business from 1994 through 2000, when she moved home to the Gulf Coast. She moved her machines with her and opened Melissa’s Vending, with machines in Gulf Coast Worship Center, Consolidated Transmissions, Beat 2 County Barn, and Star Chevrolet in Wiggins.
In 1994, she qualified for and traveled alone via Delta Airlines to New York to Guiding Eyes for the Blind to go through training and received Roger, her seeing-eye dog, who led her for about ten years until his passing.
In 1998, she felt that the Lord spoke to her in Sunday morning church service and told her to go to El Salvador to assist her Uncle Henry Kinsey, who is a missionary there. After securing her passport, she boarded a TACA Airlines plane in New Orleans and flew to El Salvador alone to assist in Missionary work there for several weeks. Her first night there, she was driven to a soccer stadium, where they were holding a youth crusade and she was asked to speak. After the service, she called her parents to report that the crowd had thronged her, just like Jesus in the Bible. She said they just wanted to touch her. The missionaries reported a very successful crusade.
She had two hobbies, listening to audio books and crocheting. She began back in Tennessee making baby blankets. She would listen to several books on tape every week and made almost one hundred fifty baby blankets. She made one full sized afghan for an elderly friend in Waynesboro, who admired it so much that she entered it in the Wayne County Fair, in Melissa’s name and she won First Prize and a Blue Ribbon.
A visitation for family and friends will be held on Monday, April 16, 2018, from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM at the RIEMANN FAMILY FUNERAL HOME, 11280 Three Rivers Rd., Gulfport, MS. The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at 2:00 PM at First Assembly of God, Gulfport, with a visitation for family and friends from 1:00 PM until the service. Burial will follow at Evergreen Gardens.
An online obituary may be viewed and condolences and photos shared on www.riemannfamily.com.