Subscriber Login

Forgot Your Username?
Forgot Your Password?
Melanie Margaret Kirsch PDF Print E-mail

Melanie Margaret Kirsch (Smith), born Jan. 26, 1954, found peace on Nov. 1, 2013, knowing she seized every day, left the world a better, more interesting place, and lived a life filled with love.

Melanie had a magnetism and a radiance that was hard to define, yet impossible to forget. She was striking, gregarious and a masterful storyteller. She had a wild sense of humor, an unrestrained and infectious laugh, and she delighted in her ability to send a room into fits of joy and laughter.

Melanie was effortlessly captivating and her vivacity placed her at the heart and helm of every conversation. It was her confidence and charisma that entertained, inspired and empowered everyone she met.

Melanie was also a woman of many talents and many passions. She was fearless and bold with a fiery determination to make a difference. Professionally, she was many things, including a scholar, a businesswoman, an author and at her core, an activist.

She earned her BA in Philosophy from Mount Holyoke College and began her professional career as a commercial art and photography representative in Los Angeles where she met her husband, Todd Smith.

Melanie authored several books including “Designer Drugs” and “How to Get Off the Fast Track and Live a Life that Money Can’t Buy.”

She was considered an expert on the synthetic drug epidemic in L.A. and appeared on numerous television shows (including the Phil Donahue Show) advocating for drug education and awareness.

After 16 years living in West Hollywood, Melanie and Todd decided to “Get Off the Fast Track” and move to Rhinelander, Wis., to raise their children and live a simpler life on their beloved farm on Silver Bass Lake.

Melanie did some of her most fulfilling and impactful work as an environmentalist in Wisconsin. Melanie was the Executive Director of the Northwoods Alliance and coordinated a statewide grassroots campaign that blocked the construction of a zinc copper mine that would have likely destroyed the lakes, rivers, forests and wildlife that Melanie valued so deeply. The land in question also had religious and cultural significance to several Native American communities and Melanie worked tirelessly to make their voice heard. Melanie gave her heart and soul to the campaign and was even described by one Native American leader as having the “heart of a warrior.” Melanie was deeply touched and turned that praise into a dogma that made her strong beyond belief and allowed her to seize every day as though it was her last.

Melanie also worked as the Director of the Rhinelander Public Library’s Young Adult Department for six and one-half years, where she found dear friends in her co-workers, met many unusual and fascinating people, and found new and creative ways to spread her love and appreciation of literature to the children who needed it most.

Those who met Melanie will remember her humor, energy and her unforgettable style — long vibrant skirts, colorful purses, cowboy boots, crisp classic blouses and her long beautiful hair. But to those who knew Melanie well, she was also a woman of great emotional depth.

She had a profound appreciation for beauty and spirituality that was quickened by the most ephemeral of joys: a blooming poppy in her flower garden, a crisp walk in the autumn woods, a beautifully prepared dinner, a moment of unexpected comedic relief, or the first few soulful bars of Santana’s Samba Pa Ti.

Melanie was at her core wonderfully enigmatic. She was equal parts playful and passionate; silly and soulful. She was easily moved from laughter to tears.

She lived life richly, simply and fiercely, never losing sight of what really mattered — the trees and the lakes, poetry and music, style and grace, pride in one’s work, laughter in one’s life and above all else, family.

Melanie is survived by her husband, Todd Alan Smith, who lost not only his wife but his best friend.

She also leaves behind three children who were the center of her universe, Riley McBride, Willow Rose and Quinlan Sayer, who carry many of her wonderful qualities. Riley has Melanie’s sense of humor and charisma; Willow her thoughtfulness and creativity; and Quinlan her playfulness and kindness.

One of Melanie’s favorite quotes was from the Wizard of Oz, “A heart is not measured by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.” Melanie was loved by many and was loved more deeply than she could have ever imagined.

Melanie is also survived by four sisters, Victoria Houston, Cecelia Goldhor, Michelle Riopel, Stephanie Kirsch Olson; her two brothers, John Kirsch and Peter Kirsch; and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her sister, Lesley Kirsch; and her parents, Alice McBride Kirsch and Jack Kirsch.

A memorial fund in Melanie’s name has been established at the Rhine­lander District Library.

There will be a memorial held in December for family and friends of Melanie. If you would like to attend, please email and we will be sure you receive information on the date and time of the gathering.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013 1:33 PM

Add comment

Comments exceeding 1,000 characters will not be accepted. Please refrain from using texting language and spell out all words. All comments are reviewed and must be approved before they are posted.

Security code