Melissa "Missy" Gail (Heitland) Lee
Missy, as she was known by all, was born June 15, 1959, to Glenn & Helen Heitland in St. Louis, Missouri joining the family that included two older siblings. She attended public schools in the St. Louis area and worked part-time during high school with her father at a local hardware store. She was very much a "daddy's girl". Upon graduation from high school, she chose the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho as her college of choice. She graduated from U of I with a degree in Museum Science/Anthropology. She then worked for the U of I for the College of Agriculture until she decided to pursue a graduate degree across the border at Washington State University. She graduated from WSU with a Master's in Archaeology and worked as a field archaeologist for several years throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska until 1994.
In 1990 she purchased land and a small home in Palouse, Washington and began putting down roots. Eventually, she grew weary of the itinerant lifestyle of a contract field archaeologist and accepted a position at WSU. In 1995 she met Kevin Imel when they both worked for the same department in the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. They were inseparable from that point forward and Kevin relocated to Palouse in late 1995 just in time for the historic flooding of early 1996.
During her more than twenty-eight years working at WSU, Missy worked for the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Institute for Shock Physics, Residence Life, Center for Fraternity & Sorority Life and finally the WSU Foundation. Her passion for education, for students, and for WSU shown through in everything she did, and she truly loved the work and those she worked with. She especially enjoyed the years working with the Greek Councils and interacting with the students directly. Missy was a Platinum member of the WSU Alumni Association and was inducted into the WSU Quarter Century Club in 2019. While working for the WSU Foundation she was awarded the Devvies Crimson Cougar award in recognition of her efforts supporting the Foundation.
Missy also volunteered with the Whitman County Historical Society through much of the 1990s including serving on its board for a few years and did her master’s research at the Perkin's House in Colfax, WA. She also was heavily involved in the Roy M. Chatters Newspaper and Print Museum in Palouse writing the original grant application and master plan that served as a template for those that followed following the flood in 1996 that all but destroyed the building.
Missy's interests included her four-legged companions, reading historical works about the region, classic movies, good food, regional wines, flowers, hockey, and baseball. She and Kevin were ticket package holders for the Spokane Chiefs for more than twenty years and for the Spokane Indians for more than ten years. Along with Kevin, she attended the first ever Seattle Kraken hockey game in Spokane in September 2021. Despite being raised in a National League town and being a lifelong Cardinals fan, Kevin converted her to the American League and to being a Mariners fan, eventually. Very few televised Mariners games were missed, even in the very bad seasons. She survived just long enough to witness the Mariner's playoff drought coming to an end the week before she passed.
In 2020, during the height of COVID, Missy and Kevin built their dream home on the property in Palouse and moved in on Halloween Day, 2020. It was a longtime dream of her’s, and she loved every minute in the new house.
In December of 1999, Missy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple treatments were tried but most, at that time, were worse than the disease itself and she chose to discontinue them after a few years. She fought hard against the disease, refusing to just sit down, and let it take her until very near the end. She stayed as active as she was able, even participating in training EMS volunteers in Whitman County acting as a practice patient and sharing how to work with those with physical disabilities.
Late on October 8th, 2022, she slipped into a coma at Pullman Regional Hospital and passed away from complications of MS the following morning in Kevin's arms.
Missy is survived by her dearest love Kevin at their home in Palouse, her four-legged family, Emma, Rocky, Belle, Gaston and Annabel, and a host of friends too numerous to count. She was preceded in death by her parents and older siblings Glenn Jr. and Judith.
Most assuredly, as she approached the Rainbow Bridge, she was greeted by a host of animal friends who rejoiced in seeing her restored to health.
Cremation has occurred and she will be interred at the Greenwood Cemetery in Palouse on Saturday, 1:00 P.M. with Rev. Corey Laughary officiating.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine Good Samaritan Fund, of which Missy was a founding donor. https://bit.ly/3VPktJ6
Kramer Funeral Home, Palouse, WA is caring for the family. On line condolences may be left at www.kramercares.com
WSU COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE GOOD SAMARITAN FUND
PULLMAN WA 99163