Remembered by her welcoming and selfless spirit, Samantha Melanson loved everyone she crossed paths with.
Born in Foothill Ranch, Calif. on Dec. 4, 2001, to Kim and Rick Melanson, Samantha came into the world with a pure heart and a passionate, loving spirit. She was a member of the C-1 outfit of the Corps of Cadets and a dedicated volunteer at J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center.
Her mother said since Samantha was two years old, she wanted to attend Texas A&M and be a veterinarian. She loved animals, especially horses.
“Samantha was so excited to be in the Corps of Cadets because her great uncle was a graduate of the Corps back in the ‘60s,” Kim said. “She loved all animals, and they loved her. They would just come up to her, and she had all kinds of pets growing up.”
Not only did Samantha fiercely love animals, but she also loved people. Samantha was able to combine her love for people and animals by volunteering her time to the riding center, which provided therapeutic horse-related programs for children with autism or who are severely handicapped.
“She only had to volunteer for 10 hours, but she volunteered for over 200. She just loved what she did.” Kim said. “She just was a loving, [energetic] person. She loved animals, loved to ride horses, loved the beach, loved her friends.”
Despite the many adversities Samantha and the rest of her freshman class faced last year due to COVID-19, her mother said she persevered and insisted she went to campus so she could study and work closer toward her goal of being a veterinarian at the place she loved most.
Samantha was her mother’s best friend and traveling buddy.
“She loved to travel places,” Kim said. “We would do a trip every year just to go to Arizona, just go ghost hunting and just goofy things together, just me and her.”
She was also a kindhearted older sister to her brother, 16-year-old Kenny. Her mother said that Samantha was a friendly and gentle spirit to everyone she met and always saw people as who they were — people.
“That was Samantha — she didn’t care if you were short, tall, black, white, gay or straight,” Kim said. “She just loves you. She changed the lives of everyone she met. From her friends in high school to her Corps buddies, she changed them for the better.”
Her father, Rick, said Samantha had big dreams.
“She was a bright star who always had a big smile on her face. She always put others before herself, and she really loved her family,” Rick said. “She wanted to have her own ranch with chickens and dogs and pigs and horses.”
Angela Leist, Samantha’s close friend since middle school, said Samantha loved her way of life.
“She was comfortable with herself. She was a beautiful person inside and out,” Leist said. “She was a very, very supportive person — the most supportive person in my life. She was like that to a lot of people, a very understanding soul. And she was a hell of a lot of fun.”
Leist said her favorite memories with Samantha are late-night drives in Samantha’s “little red Kia Soul.”
“She knew how to have a good time. She was really supportive, gave really good advice,” Leist said. “She taught others to just live happily. She wasn’t religious, but she was very spiritual. She loved the belief that everything is okay, everything has a balance. She taught people to just be happy and to not sweat the small things.”
Samantha met the love of her life, Ethan Davis, at A&M in the Corps of Cadets.
“She was head over heels for him, and he treated her so well,” Leist said. “I called her one day and she just ranted about how amazing this guy was. He was perfect for Sam. I’m so happy that she got to experience life with him and that he was with her when she passed. Samantha was a beautiful, beautiful person and the light of people’s day.”