Melissa Lee Smith (née Lutzenberger), 51, of Riverview, Florida, died Saturday, November 18th, after a year-long fight with metastatic breast cancer. Melissa is survived by her daughters, Mackenzie Conway and Isabel Smith; her parents Tom and Judy Lutzenberger; her sister Jennifer Lutzenberger Phillips, brother-in-law Brad Phillips, nephew AJ Lutzenberger; her sister Angela Lutzenberger and brother-in-law Toby Sifton; her best friend Amy Kaufman; and many loving uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, and coworkers. She is predeceased by her daughter Mackenzie’s father Todd Conway, and survived by her daughter Isabel’s father Scott Smith.
Melissa was born on June 17th, 1972, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After she graduated from Muskego Public High School in 1990, she attended cosmetology school to become an esthetician. While running her first business, Amazing Face, in Londonderry, New Hampshire, she also built the spirit of football fans as a New England Patriots Cheerleader, competed in the ESPN 2 Fitness competition, modeled fitness products and wedding gowns, and taught ballroom dance.
In 2004, Melissa moved to Florida with her family, becoming the manager of the Renaissance Salon in Sun City Center. In 2010, after the birth of her second daughter, the family moved briefly to Phoenix, Arizona, returning to Florida in 2011. While raising her two young daughters as a stay-at-home mother, Melissa also completed a degree in medical sonography at Hillsborough Community College. She began her sonography career in 2017, first at Tampa General, then at Manatee Memorial Hospital. Melissa had never been as joyful in herself or her work than she was during her years at Manatee Memorial.
In July 2022, one month after her 50th birthday, Melissa discovered the lump in her breast that would define the next 16 months of her life. She faced her diagnosis with fierce determination, buoyed by the love and constant support of her dearest friend Amy, as well as her friends and work family at Manatee Memorial; she chronicled her experiences during treatment using Facebook, inspiring many along the way. As per her wishes, she died at home, surrounded by family, strong in self presence, and very deeply loved. Her family offers our deepest gratitude to her oncologists and care providers at St. Joe’s and Moffit Cancer Centers, and the nurses, aides, and social workers of LifePath Hospice.
Memorial donations may be made in her memory to LifePath Hospice (https://www.chaptershealth.org) or 813-877-2200.
A reception for Melissa will be held Wednesday, November 29, 2023 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at National Cremation and Burial Society Ruskin, 308 East College Ave, Ruskin, FL 33570.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.nationalcremation.com/location/ruskin for the Smith family.