Melissa Marie Sours

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. – Maya Angelou

Melissa Marie (Chen) Sours – 30 years of age September 15, 1988 – June 11, 2019

Melissa Marie Chen was born on September 15, 1988 to Sherri Syria and Jeffrey Chen in Seattle, Washington. The eldest of four children, Melissa always embraced her role as big sister. Known as “Sissy” to her parents and siblings, this endearing nickname was a reflection of the love, care, and guidance Melissa gave to her family.

As Melissa blossomed into a beautiful young woman, those close to her would be quick to identify her as stylish, strong, determined, and independent. And yes, she was all of those things. During her battle with brain cancer she received hundreds of comments and letters from family and friends. But in those letters the love, care, and guidance she offered was the motif. That is what made her special and beloved by so many. It’s what friends and family will remember and miss the most.

Even as a young girl, Melissa was ambitious, spirited, and determined. Her parents helped instill the confidence in her to believe she could accomplish any goals she set for herself. She approached tasks with intense focus and always with her unique combination of grace and strength. Whether it was the elegance in her ballet performances, or the tenacity to fight against larger girls in basketball, Melissa could thrive in any environment.

These traits helped her graduate from Seattle Prep a year early as part of the Matteo Ricci program. She spent her senior year of high school taking classes at Seattle University before transferring to the University of Washington.

At the UW, Melissa really began to fashion the framework for her future. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English with an economics minor. And while she was a great student, it was the friends she made, and the love story she fell into that she was most proud of.

Melissa joined her best friend from Seattle Prep at UW and met the rest of her best friends in a close-knit group that formed in her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha. Watching can’t-miss shows like Gossip Girl and The Bachelor, nights out, exploring the city, shopping, taking photos, sharing opinions on people/places/fashion, these were all integral parts of college life with the girls. Melissa most valued the sharing of stories, laughter, love and unwavering support with the women that remained her best friends throughout her life. Since the day they met, Melissa was unapologetically herself; a bold yet kind and caring person. Her best friends describe her as their biggest supporter and the ultimate advocate for being true to yourself.

It was in the first month of her time at UW, Autumn 2007, that Melissa met the love of her life, Ryan Sours. They met in an accounting course. They loved recounting their first memories of each other. Melissa remembered studying the cute boy who sat in front of her. Ryan remembers being struck by her beauty, and even the blue sweater Melissa wore when he nervously took the seat in front of her. The attraction was immediate, and while Ryan and Melissa took things slowly, the two were almost inseparable – studying together, hanging out with friends, or just enjoying long conversations. Despite their different backgrounds, and amidst the often chaotic fraternity-sorority lifestyle in college, Ryan and Melissa found comfort and an escape in each other. Even at age 19, they had a lot in common when it came to values and life goals – graduation, work ethic, marriage, commitment, sacrifice, family, love, travel, fun, friends, and above all – faith.

While life seemed to test them early and often, their love only grew with time.

After spending college summers and the first two years following graduation living across the state from each other, Ryan and Melissa were engaged on Labor Day Weekend 2013. Melissa accepted Ryan’s proposal on his parents’ boat in the middle of Lake Union.

Life halted wedding plans. In December 2013, Melissa had to undergo 30 hours of surgery over

Melissa Chen and Ryan Sours
Seattle, Washington
August 22, 2015

multiple days to remove a benign brain tumor. Life had changed forever. Melissa will be remembered for her strength, determination, and grace during this difficult time of her life.

The one constant during her recovery was her love for Ryan. The two navigated a most difficult season in life. On August 22, 2015 they were married at the Harbor Club in downtown Seattle. The two remember it as the best day of their lives.

Melissa worked for Nordstrom beginning with an internship in college. Her passion for style and fashion made it a perfect fit. She drew inspiration from other women in senior management roles, and had ambitious career goals of her own. Melissa quickly worked her way up to department manager while rotating to different stores and taking on more responsibility. It wasn’t unusual for her departments to receive national recognition in quarterly meetings for their success. Melissa was a natural as a manager and leader – even at age 25. It was difficult for her to take a step back and move to an office role after recovering from surgery. Like all things, she handled it with grace. She quickly found success again in her Business Analyst role. And while she enjoyed success, promotions, and new challenges, it was her co-workers she enjoyed most. Melissa had a way of making friends and leaving an impact on co-workers at every stop on her career path.


Melissa was full of life. Some of the things she enjoyed most –

  • Family – caring for younger siblings, watching them grow and succeed; the affection, hair styling, and long talks she got from Mom; the confidence, love for sports, and jokes she got from Dad; Chinese New Year and dinners with family. Family was always central to Melissa’s life. She understood and appreciated the diversity of her European and Chinese ancestry.
  • Traveling – she particularly enjoyed her honeymoon exploring Spain and Italy, and the convenience and pampering of a 2018 trip to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun
  • Shopping and finding good deals
  • Saving up and treating herself to nicer things
  • Cooking, trying new recipes and new restaurants
  • Hosting friends and family for elegant or “upscale casual” events and showing off new recipes and home décor
  • Dessert, and almost anything chocolate
  • Hiking and exploring
  • Singing and listening to music – favorites include Mariah Carey and Taylor Swift, but includes Country music (something she attributed to Ryan)
  • Going to concerts – some favorites include Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney (multiple times each).
  • Dancing
  • Summer –biking, swimming, picnics,
  • Relaxing on white sand beaches
  • Boating on Hayden Lake with the Sours family
  • Being with friends – whether it be watching the latest reality show, going to bachelorette parties, weddings, BBQ’s, or Husky football tailgates (in moderation)
  • Watching home renovation shows, then working on house projects and home décor
  • Gardening
  • Pomeranians – the smaller and fluffier, the better
  • Melissa was great with babies. She adored them and their chubby cheeks
  • Leaving hand-written notes
  • Spending time with Ryan doing all the above; but also just enjoying long talks, long walks holding hands, and finding those times where it felt like the world was meant for just the two of them.

Melissa passed away from an extremely rare brain cancer that was discovered in March 2019. Words do not suffice to illustrate the bravery and grace she demonstrated in her fight against cancer. She was often the one consoling family during her illness. She made a point to introduce herself and thank every doctor and nurse who cared for her. Even on her last day, she pulled together all of her energy to smile for her family and signal for one more kiss from Ryan.

Melissa leaves behind a legacy for all to carry on. It’s a belief that a person should be authentic and honest about what she needs. More importantly, it’s the belief that every person has a story, every person is going through something, and whether she shares that story or not, she deserves respect and the benefit of the doubt. She believed people’s thoughts or actions should be met first with compassion and an attempt to understand and empathize. Her story is one of advocating for not only herself, but also encouraging others to advocate for themselves and their health. Melissa would be first to acknowledge her legacy and inspiration starts with her faith in Jesus Christ. Her legacy is in how she encouraged her husband and brother, and perhaps others, to renew their faith as well. Her legacy is in her love for her family and her friends. To Ryan, she leaves the confidence that love endures all things.

Melissa is survived by her husband of 4 years, Ryan; parents Sherri Syria and Jeffrey Chen; three siblings Diana (Joshua) Angeles, Vanessa Chen, and Anthony Chen.

A memorial service for Melissa will take place on August 15, 2019 at Churchome in Kirkland. Address is 9051 132nd Ave NE, Kirkland, WA 98033. Memorial service will begin at 2pm. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Alvord Brain Tumor Center at the University of Washington.

5 Responses to “Melissa Marie Sours”

  • Brockman Cheryl says:

    What a lovely woman who left too soon.

  • Chuck Jackson. says:

    Melissa now soars with the winged ones. There’s a celebration in heaven with the arrival of Gods newest angel. Always know that Melissa will check in from time to time to let you know how much she continues to love you. (That’s when you think of her and get that pang). Jeff and Sherri you raised a spectacular young spirit. Fly on beautiful one. Sugar

  • Steven Potter says:

    A beautiful life taken way way to soon, Love and prayers from the Potter family.

  • Sherry Meyer says:

    Love and prayers. Gone way tooo soon!

  • Lenora says:

    All my love to you all as you remember Melissa and her courage and kindness. May God provide comfort and peace.

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