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Renee Melenka

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Renee Nadine Melenka (Sauer)

June 26, 1972 - March 25, 2024


Renee (Melenka) Sauer, beloved mother, daughter, sister, and dedicated Registered Nurse, passed away suddenly on March 25, 2024 due to a brain aneurysm. Renee leaves behind a legacy of compassion, advocacy, and unwavering love, especially for her children.  Born on June 26, 1972, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Renee was raised in Lethbridge County attending Sunnyside and McNally Community Schools and later, St Joseph’s Middle and Kate Andrews High School in Coaldale.

Renee was the cherished mother of Jessi Melenka (16) and Jake Melenka (10), both of Cranbrook, BC. As a mother, Renee sought to instill the values of empathy, kindness, and resilience. Her devotion to her children knew no bounds, and she took immense pride in their accomplishments including judo and 4-H (Jessi) and hockey and lacrosse (Jake) and their aspirations.

The daughter of Albert and Susan Sauer of Lethbridge, Renee was raised with a deep sense of community and a commitment to service. Alongside her brother, Greg Sauer, of Calgary, Renee learned the value of hard work from an early age mostly growing up near Sunnyside and later the McNally area on five acres of land. It was here that Renee rode and jumped their Honda three-wheeler, participated in 4-H (sheep) and gained a deep appreciation for animals. While not having the opportunity to have a horse of her own, she was able to share in this love much later living vicariously through Jessi in recent years. Although it was not always the case (think teen years) Renee loved rural life, including times at the family farms near Seven Persons (Debler) and Conquerville (Sauer) with grandparents Lilian and Tony Debler and Anna and Lois Sauer, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. Renee also loved summer camping trips and journeys that defined the early years to places including Lake Newell, Elkwater, Blairmore, Waterton and West Glacier (Montana).

Professionally, Renee spent two years at Lethbridge College before joining Green Acres Animal Clinic. It was here that Renee fostered her love of animals and began her long legacy of rescuing as many animals as she possibly could. Following this, Renee moved to Calgary where she trained as a Licensed Practical Nurse. This career took her to Jasper, where she had the honour of providing care for an individual who suffered a spinal cord injury and was confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic to end of life. Renee’s time in Jasper came to be remembered as among her happiest and Jasper her most beloved place. Renee later returned home to Lethbridge before moving to Cranbrook and Fernie where she worked in hospitals in both BC (Cranbrook and Fernie) and Alberta (Crowsnest Pass). Renee returned to BCIT where, with great pride, she fulfilled a goal of becoming a Registered Nurse. Her caring nature was legendary and exceptional skills were evident in the interactions with patients and colleagues alike. Whether providing comfort to those in pain or advocating for the most vulnerable, Renee approached her work with unwavering dedication and a profound sense of duty.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Renee was a passionate advocate for animals and those less fortunate – and stories abound. Her compassion seemed limitless and was both a blessing and a curse for this highly empathic human. For most, it is no secret that Renee struggled with her mental health through much of her adult life. While stigmatized, especially in the early days, Renee learned to embrace this disease and did not shy away from her challenges publicly.

In addition to her loving family and friends, Renee leaves behind a community deeply grateful for her presence and inspired by her legacy of kindness and generosity. While she may no longer walk among us, her spirit will forever live on in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to know her.

As a life-long giver, it is fitting that Renee was able to provide the gift of life, even in death. As a result of Renee’s donation of organs, four individuals will receive the gift of life. While we grieve her loss, Renee’s family is buoyed knowing that Renee’s heart continues to beat in a donor recipient. Renee’s family encourages anyone who has considered but not done so to register as a donor.

In addition to being predeceased by all of her grandparents, several aunts, uncles and cousins, Renee was predeceased by her best friend, Carol Braat, whom Renee held near and dear to the very end.

A celebration of Renee’s life will be held at a later date and at a location to be determined.

In lieu of flowers or monetary donations, the family asks that you make an investment and donation in kindness, non-judgement and respect for humans (especially those less fortunate) and non-human species alike. Renee sought a better world defined by kindness. An act of kindness (random or otherwise) with Renee in mind would mean the world to us.

Renee will be dearly missed but never forgotten, her memory serving as a beacon of light and love for all who were touched by her remarkable presence. May she rest in peace, knowing that her life was a testament to the power of compassion.



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From: Mark Memorial Funeral Services

Mark Memorial Funeral Services Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Nycki Wannamaker
Relation: Friends

Renee, you made such an impact in my life. Our bond will forever be unbroken. I was blessed to be part of your family if even for a few short years.

From: Carol Bennett (Madison)
Relation: Good friends with Burt and Susan Sauer

our heartfelt sympathy. Memories of Renee as a youngster.

From: Carol Graham

Dear Bert and Susan; I am so very sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you at this difficult time. 💔
Carol (Gorzitza) Graham

From: Valerie Sawchuk
Relation: I used to babysit both Renee and Greg when they lived on Sunnyside Road Lethbridge County.

My heartfelt condolences to Renee’s parents brother Greg and her children.

From: Frances and Dennis Cote
Relation: friend

Albert and Susan, our condolences on the loss of Renee.

From: Tara Vucurevich (Curtis)
Relation: Childhood friend

Our Deepest Sympathy to you all. Renee was a dear friend from our school days in Coaldale. Heartbroken to hear the news. Cherish your memories.

From: Susan Sauer
Relation: Mother

Always loving and caring for our forever loving daughter. Your 51 years went too quickly, but our cherished memories will live on. We are so thankful for the love and joy you brought into our lives. Your generosity touched so many lives. You often, would say, mom always remember the lovely grandchildren I have given you and dad. My darling, we are so thankful. You were so loved and now at peace. We are forever grateful that your loving heart now beats in another person, and you have allowed three more people to have a renewed life. You truly gave the world the precious gift of life. Dad, Greg and I will miss your smiles and laughter but until we meet again, rest in peace.
Mom, dad, Greg and all our family

From: Jack and Lucy Braat
Relation: Friend

Our heartfelt condolences. Renee was one of those few people that are a bright spot in our lives. She is most loving and caring people i had the privilege to have known. She will will be missed by all who knew her.

From: Calvin Stewart
Relation: friend

Bert, Susan and Greg – our sincere condolences to you at this time. We were so sorry to hear about Renee. She was always such a kind compassionate individual and Barbara says an incredible classmate. She had accomplished a lot in her short life. We want to visit you when you are ready. Know of our love and appreciation for each of you and of course Renee. Cal & Anne & Barbara Stewart

Service Schedule

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