MISSOULA — Suzanne Melanie Hoell ("Mel"), 65, died suddenly and unexpectedly of natural causes at her home in Missoula on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. She was born Nov. 22, 1952, the youngest of three children born to Edward J. and Bessie P. (Laramie) Hoell in Helena.
An outstanding student, Melanie excelled in language arts and piano, sometimes playing duets with her sister. Graduating from Helena High School in 1970, she attended Barnard College, Columbia University in New York City. She remembered her years in New York with great joy, for it was there that her love for art and design bloomed into a life-long passion. Graduating with a degree in psychology in 1974, Melanie returned to Montana, earning a Master of Arts in Counseling from the University of Montana in 1977. She worked as a junior high school counselor in Fallon, Nevada, before returning to Montana for her school psychologist certification. In 1988 Melanie married Rick van den Pol; they divorced in 2001 but remained good friends through the years.
From 1985 until her passing Melanie worked in various capacities at the University of Montana, where she gained a reputation for her knowledge and skills in academic advising. She became the go-to person for difficult advising issues, worked on dozens of task forces, councils and committees seeking to enhance student success over the years. She helped to train and support a network of academic advisers across campus. Her career with undergraduate academic advising formed a basis for doctoral research, culminating in 2006 when she was awarded her Doctorate in Counselor Education. Since 2009 she has worked as Director of Advising in the College of Humanities and Sciences.
It would be difficult to find anyone more beloved and respected on the University of Montana campus than Melanie Hoell. In the course of her career she touched the lives of literally thousands of students, helping them traverse the sometimes tricky path to graduation. Her accomplishments were recognized with several prestigious awards, including the Robert T. Panzer Presidential Humanitarian Award, the Outstanding Service to Students Award, and Academic Administrator of the Year Award in 2009. Melanie was an accomplished gardener, her yard being a showpiece reflecting a true artist's eye for color and texture. She dazzled friends and relatives with her knowledge of plants and flowers, including common and Latin names. Her love for animals was reflected in many pets over the years, and work with local animal rescue charities as well as national and international wildlife and environmental organizations. A voracious reader, she was a great friend of the UM Creative Writing Program.
Melanie is survived by her brother Noel L. Hoell (Anne) of Missoula, her sister Carol Ann Dietzen (Dan) of Helena, nephews Geoffrey Hoell of Billings and Nicholas Dietzen of Helena, and niece Andrea Hoell of Missoula. She will be deeply missed by her family, her many friends, and all the students she helped over the years. A celebration of her life will take place at 3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16, at the UC Ballroom on the University of Montana campus. A family observance will be scheduled for a later date.