Melissa Karnilaw

Obituary of Melissa Ruth Karnilaw

             Melissa Ruth Karnilaw passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on November 22, 2021.  She was the daughter of Jere and John Karnilaw, of Warren, NJ and the sister of Jaime Karnilaw of Denver, CO and Marguerite Mahaney of Flemington, NJ. 

            Melissa graduated from Watchung Hills Regional High School in Warren, NJ, and Somerset County Vocational and Technical School in Bridgewater, NJ.  As a member of the Gifted and Talented Theatre Arts program at Somerset County Vocational and Technical School she was elected into the National Honor Society for Vocational Schools and was awarded the Franklin Theatre Arts Scholarship for students pursuing a career in theatre arts.  After high school she attended Kutztown University in Pennsylvania as a theatre arts major, and later transferred to and received an Associate Degree in Theatre Arts from Raritan Valley Community College in North Branch, NJ.

            Throughout her life Melissa exhibited a unique ability to work with children, especially those with special needs.   This led her down many paths, and most recently as a Behavioral Support Specialist at Maryhurst School and Residence for Abused Girls in Louisville, KY.  She worked tirelessly to instill hope in the girls she worked with for a better future. At the time of her passing, she was planning to form a drama group with these girls, in whom she saw much talent.   No challenge was too difficult for her at Maryhurst.

            Melissa also loved animals which led her to owning a successful pet grooming and pet sitting business in Louisville and was highly regarded for her love and care for her customer’s pets of all kinds.

            Melissa leaves behind her loving parents, Jere and John Karnilaw, her brother Jaime, his wife Diana and their son Easton, her sister Marguerite Mahaney, her husband Ryan and their son Aidan and daughter Olivia, and finally, her boyfriend, and very best friend, Will Garner. 

            Although Melissa’s life ended abruptly, she was doing the things she loved. Donations in Melissa’s memory can be made to

                A memorial is being planned in Kentucky and information will be posted when it becomes available.



A Memorial Tree was planted for Melissa
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Middlesex Funeral Home
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