Cover photo for Melody Gale O'Connor's Obituary
Melody Gale O'Connor Profile Photo

Melody Gale O'Connor

d. August 22, 2021

O'CONNOR, Melody Gale, age 78, died peacefully at her home in Westwood, MA on August 22, 2021 surrounded by her loving children. A devoted and inspirational mother, sister, daughter and friend; Melody fought cancer for over 2 years with tireless strength, determination and a deep desire to live every moment to the fullest. The eldest of 7 children and a small-town farm girl from Copenhagen, NY, she excelled both academically and musically. She received her B.A. from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and obtained her Master's Degree from SUNY New Paltz. She lived briefly in South Edmeston, NY and then moved to the Hudson Valley to teach K-5 music in the Wallkill, NY public school district. She also worked as an advanced education consultant for Holt Rheinhardt and Winston.
Melody lived out the meaning of her name, bringing the art and language of music to life for everyone around her. She performed in numerous choirs, from the Hudson Valley to SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center), Prague, Vienna and beyond. As a teacher for over 30 years, she touched the lives of countless children creating wonderful music programs, including a new recorder and guitar curriculum, and a myriad of public choral performances. Her love of music and positivity was contagious; children would flock to her for warm hugs wherever she would go.
Her devotion to family was remarkable, and so was her love for travel. When she became a grandmother, she found immense delight in building unique bonds with her four grandchildren. Of course there were songs, play time in the parks, and cheering at sporting events, but she also granted each child the trip of a lifetime when they turned 11. She took them wherever they could imagine, as long as it wasn't snowy! These trips took her to Hawaii, New Zealand, the Galapagos, the Amazon and South Africa. And then there were a few global escapades with her best friend; hiking in the 'Gunks, snowshoeing in Yellowstone, and jumping off to far-flung destinations like Indonesia and Alaska with her mother. Shared experiences were everything to her, and yet she found comparable glee in the simple events of daily living - like harvesting her mom's gardens, making her famous homemade bread and fudge, and cuddling with barn kittens.

Her zest for family and life was amazing such that she pushed well beyond all cancer predictions, pronouncing that she was "selfish", always wanting more time with us. It was bewildering and sometimes difficult to track her disease progression, as she often found the energy to go back to her mom's home in upstate NY and the family camp in the Adirondacks.

Melody leaves behind her mother Kate Stella Sheldon of Copenhagen, NY, her son Eric Jacunski and wife Marne of Newton, MA, daughter Gwen Nelson and husband Jack of Westwood, MA, grandchildren Ethan and Garrett Jacunski, Lauren and Brad Nelson, siblings Gerald (Mary), John (Gail, predeceased), Donald, Kathy Janssen (Rick), sister-in-law Sally (predeceased by brother Charles), Douglas (predeceased) and countless nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her and benefited from her beauty, warmth and caring spirit.
A memorial and graveside service will be held in Copenhagen, NY at a time to be announced to family and friends. In lieu of flowers, please send any donations to the Good Shepherd Hospice of Boston (, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation ( or the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Melody Gale O'Connor, please visit our flower store.


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