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In January 2018, Michael J. Melby, the former director of innovation and activation at Indiana University Health Bloomington, was beaming ear to ear as he participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for the philanthropy-funded IU Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC).
At the time, he was integral in the planning and execution of the highly anticipated and revolutionary new hospital that would serve south-central Indiana.
No one could have imagined that just 18 months later, Melby would have a recurrence of melanoma that would result in his inability to see the project to fruition. In December 2019, while hospital construction was well underway, Melby lost his battle with cancer.
To his family, friends, and colleagues, the loss was devastating.
"At his memorial service, I heard a range of testimonials, both from the university and medical community, praising the importance of his work on the RAHC," said Kathleen Sideli.
Sideli, who is the stepmother of Melby’s widow, Maire Quilter, also shared, "He was so beloved, and it was obvious his leadership had a lasting impact on his coworkers."
As Sideli listened to those kind words about her stepson-in-law, a pathway toward healing revealed itself in the form of philanthropy.
To honor Melby's legacy, Sideli and Quilter generously gifted IU Health Foundation $25,000 to establish The Michael J. Melby Mentor Award—an award that will annually recognize IU Health Bloomington RAHC team members who display strong leadership and mentorship abilities by granting them $1,000.
"Michael was so passionate about mentoring future IU Health leaders," Sideli said. "Having his named attached to an award like this means his presence will remain at the RAHC for years to come, as will his strong beliefs in the importance of recognizing future talent."
The gift is also made in memory of Daniel Quilter, Sideli’s late husband, and Maire’s father.
“Daniel loved Michael,” Sideli said. “And even though he is no longer here, I know he would want to be part of this.”
In addition to the award, Melby's legacy will live on through a plaque bench named in his honor and placed outside the RAHC.
For Sideli, Maire, and the rest of Melby's family, these recognitions help mend the hole left in their hearts since his passing.
"Our family will always miss Michael, but knowing that his legacy lives on in these ways comforts us," Sideli said. "I'd like to think that even though he was very modest and always avoided the spotlight, Michael appreciates our efforts in keeping his name alive at the hospital that meant so much to him."
To donate to The Michael J. Melby Mentor Award or recognize a valuable team member at the RAHC, contact Emily Trinkle, IU Health Foundation philanthropy manager, at email@example.com.