Steve Melniszyn, Teacher from UFT
* Teacher, IS 145, Queens
Steve Melniszyn, a UFT member for 20 years, “was a caring math teacher who always had time to help students,” said his wife, Catherine Felix-Melniszyn. They were often stopped by former students on trains or neighborhood streets, she said. Steve would take the time to find out what had been going on in their lives and the students would “boast about how much he helped them,” she recalled.
Steve, 66, died on Jan. 16, 2021, of complications from COVID-19.
A Vietnam veteran, Steve was an electrician for many years before getting his master’s degree and becoming a math teacher at IS 145 in Jackson Heights, his neighborhood school. “He wanted to give back to our community,” Felix-Melniszyn said.
And give back he did. “He made a connection with his students,” said Chapter Leader John Gordon. “He would give students extra help whenever they needed it.”
Gordon said Steve “told personal stories that made students feel ‘we’re all a part of this.’ Almost every class he would start off with a story.”
The school is three blocks from Elmhurst Hospital, which has been referred to as Ground Zero for COVID, Gordon said, and there have been many losses in the community.
Steve was the school’s chapter leader before Gordon and mentored him in that role. “Anything I needed, he was always there for me. He was very well-liked and staff knew him as someone who would go out of his way to be helpful. He was a loving family man and talked about his sons all the time,” Gordon said.
His hobbies included rock and mineral collecting.
In addition to his wife, Catherine, Steve is survived by a son, Stephen. His younger son, William, also died recently of COVID-19.
“Even though my husband was working from home, he contracted COVID-19. I just want everyone to practice social distancing and mask wearing and remember to wash your hands well and often,” Felix-Melniszyn said.