Dr. Samuel Hughes Melton, age 52 of Bristol, VA, went to be with the Lord on August 2, 2019 at the University of Virginia (UVA) Hospital from injuries incurred from a motor vehicle accident. Born in Miami, Florida, he was the son of Howard Ivy Melton and Betty Hughes Melton. He was preceded in death by his mother, Betty Hughes Melton.
Hughes graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he studied German and Interdisciplinary Studies. A dedicated student and member of ROTC, he then went on to study at the UVA School of Medicine, where he served as class president. He stayed at UVA to complete his family medicine residency, where he served as house staff president. Following residency, he served in the US Army at Fort Campbell, KY and Fort Bragg, NC. After leaving the Army, Hughes fulfilled his dream of caring for the medically underserved by opening C-Health, PC in Lebanon, VA where he cared for patients in Russell County. During this time, Dr. Melton became board certified in Addiction Medicine and cared for his patients with substance use disorders at HighPower, PC in Lebanon.
His incredible love for his patients and fellow staff, his evident passion for medicine, and his exemplary leadership led him to be awarded the 2011 Family Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
After serving in the capacity of a clinician for many years, Hughes began his career in medical administration at Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, VA as Chief Medical Officer for the Virginia facilities of Legacy Mountain States Health Alliance. He received the Servant’s Heart Award, the highest patient service award granted by Ballad Health. During this time, he received his Master’s in Business Administration from the Darden School of Business at UVA.
When he moved into the role of Vice President of Medical Education for the NE and NW markets of Legacy Mountain States, he led efforts to start a family medicine residency, addressing a need to bring more physicians to Southwest Virginia. In 2015, Hughes was presented with the opportunity to touch even more lives across the Commonwealth by accepting the position of Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Health Department. After two years in this position, he was appointed by Virginia Governor Northam for the position of Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. His passion and efforts for his work for those with mental illness and addiction in Virginia have been recognized by national leaders.
While his accolades are endless, anyone who knew Hughes understood that to him, things were nothing, and people were everything. His deep love for Jesus Christ touched all aspects of his life and allowed a deeper understanding and passion for his life and the people in it. His devotion and love for his wife Sarah, and daughters Maggie and Claire, were unparalleled. His long, often life-changing and philosophical conversations with older daughter, Maggie, his “buddy,” or “Mags,” while on the many daddy-daughter dinner dates they shared shaped not only how she views life but how she lives it. He and his younger daughter Claire, or his “Copi,” shared hundreds of precious hours together in the tiny Cirrus airplane that he helped teach her to fly. His love for his entire family, friends, patients, and co-workers was palpable. He was generous, kind, funny, patient, forgiving and compassionate. He touched and changed innumerable lives before his death and continues to touch many through his life story and his gift of organ donation. Even in his final minutes, Hughes was loved and celebrated by an “honor walk” in the University of Virginia Hospital where staff, family, and friends lined the hallways as he was taken from the ICU to the operating room where he passed peacefully surrounded by his father, wife, and daughters and was able to donate his organs.
Hughes is survived by his wife Dr. Sarah Melton of Bristol, Virginia; daughters Maggie and Claire of Bristol, Virginia; father Howard Melton (Diane) of Arlington, Virginia; brother John Melton (Leigh) of Farmville, Virginia; brother Benjamin Melton (Lisa) of Richmond, Virginia; father- and mother-in-law Samuel and Margaret Tollison of Riner, VA; sister-in law Julie McMichael of Riner, VA; and sister-in-law Katie Reynolds (Peter) of Dayton, Ohio. He had numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews that he loved with all of his heart.
We would like to thank the incredible medical team of the Surgical Trauma ICU ward at the University of Virginia Hospital, especially Michael D. Williams, MD; Ashok Asthagiri, MD; Rudolph B. Rustin III, MD; Elizabeth Alvarez, MSN, BSN; Katie Miller, BSN; Katie Ryan, BSN; Gabby Squeo, MD; and Katherine Pedersen, BSN. We would also like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Richard Pearson for their continued love and support.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, August 11, 2019 at Fellowship Chapel, 201 Crockett Street, Bristol, VA 24201. Visitation will begin at 2 pm and will end at 5 pm, followed by a service at 5 pm. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the UVA Cancer Center, Betty Hughes Melton Memorial Fund. Donations can be mailed to UVA Health Foundation, PO Box 400807, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4807, or made online at www.giving.uvahealth.com.
Condolences can be sent to the family at www.hillandwood.com.