Melba Rabinowitz

December 14, 1939 to November 7, 2021


She passed away peacefully in her sleep after a prolonged and difficult illness at the age of 81.  Predeceased by her parents Frank and DeLois Whitesides, left with a lifetime of service to women and children, and fond and loving memories of her husband of 56 years Michael, three children Toby, Louis, and Avrom; three brothers Tom (Joyce), Jess (Betty), Joe (Sherry) Whiteside; and extended family and friends.

A celebration of her life will take place on Sunday, May 15, 2022 in St. John’s, NL, place and time to be determined.

Donations in Melba’s memory may be made to Daybreak Parent Child Centre, Newfoundland Writers’ Guild, or the Stella Burry Foundation.



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I was saddened to hear of her passing. I’ll always remember my visit to see Aunt Melba and Uncle Mike in beautiful Newfoundland years ago. She was a deeply caring and creative person, and I’m very glad to have known her.

I was saddened to hear of her passing. I’ll always remember my visit to see Aunt Melba and Uncle Mike in beautiful Newfoundland years ago. She was a deeply caring and creative person, and I’m very glad to have known her.

We were very saddened to learn of Melba’s passing.
She was a relentless advocate for children and was to be admired.
She definitely left a positive legacy.

Colleen Hanrahan and John Abbott

Hi Mike and family,
So sorry to hear the sad news of Melba’s passing. She was a kind and generous in every way person. I’m so grateful for her many contributions.

To Mike and family
We have all lost a wonderful woman – Melba was so kind and caring, to people she knew and to those she never even met. She is a Newfoundland treasure. May her spirit continue in all of you.

The Georgina Day family
Portugal Cove

Sincere condolences from a fellow organic grower. Melba advised me and shared her thoughts with me… Not just on growing, but on subjects of family and life in general.
I will always be grateful.

Dear Mike, Toby, Oz and Louis, Thinking about you lots these days and re-living all the good times we’ve spent with you and Melba. Lovely memories of a wonderful person who gave so much to so many of us.. Melba is much missed.

Anne and Gerard

Thanks to everyone for their wonderful messages. We hope you will all join as on May 15, 2022 to celebrate Melba’s life. The place and time will be announced in the evening telegram and on the Carnell’s website.

Dear Mike and family,
We are so very sorry for your loss. Melba was a long time member and Life Member of the NL Writers’ Guild. She was very passionate about the Guild and contributed so much in so many ways to the organization over the years. We have very fond memories of our yearly farm retreats and workshops, which Melba continued to generously host until several years ago.
Our deepest condolences to you and your family.
Melba will be sorely missed.

Mike and family,
I was saddened to hear of Melba’s death. How much nurturing she did in this province in her kind and generous way, while Mike and the farm nurtured us in another way.! I particularly appreciated her quiet support during difficult times at MUN Art Gallery. As a community we are diminished by her passing.
Patricia Grattan

Dear Mike and family,

We are very sorry to hear for your loss. Melba was a powerhouse and we are so happy for the time we got to know her and work with her. Our thoughts are with you right now.

My sincere condolences to Mile, Toby, Louie & Avrom on the passing of Melba. I only had a couple of interactions with Melba. One was a conversation about co-operatives and the other was as a Employment Counsellor with a local non-profit where she was a very supportive employer! In both cases, I knew I was in the presence of a unique and caring woman who was dedicated to making life better for others..
Rest in peace.
Ken Kavanagh
Bell Island

So sorry for your loss. May wonderful memories bring you peace and comfort in the coming days. Thinking of the family, and sending warm thoughts your way.

My sincere condolences to Professor Rabinowitz and family. We have been blessed by Melba’s presence and her help in bettering our Province..

Mike, Toby, Louie and Avrom. Wow the memories of Melba. When Melba first came to Newfoundland in 1979 we shared an office at Memorial University Extension Service; she as Coordinator of Early Childhood Education and I as Consultant to Rural Women. Both of us had our first degrees in home economics solidifying our focus on the family. Melba was certainly an idea generator. Her extensive and impressive background (both academic and practical work related) in early childhood and in family relations allowed her to build on local knowledge and to bring doable and appropriate support for children and families.

Melba had a fundamental desire to make the world a better place and she did that in so many ways..

Melba’s contributions are too many to list here but I want to reflect on a few that were instrumental for families and children in Newfoundland and Labrador. Melba spearheaded the first Early Childhood Education conference outside St John’s (in. Stephenville) and follow up conferences in Goose Bay, Labrador City, and Gander as well as many smaller workshops in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Melba worked closely with Memorial Extension fieldworker Laura Jackson supporting early childhood initiatives on the Labrador Coast.

Melba spearheaded the first province wide formal training of early childhood staff.

In 1979, Melba joined Daybreak Parent Child Centre (formally called Teach-a-Tot). I had the pleasure of serving on Melba’s Board of Directors and also in supporting some of her initiatives. I remember with smiles on my face of the nights that we spent designing and composing the messages and artwork for the calendar and also for the late nights spent putting together an insert in celebration of the International Year of the Family for the Evening Telegram. Both of these endeavours were designed to support families and caregivers with pertinent information and ideas. The insert also recognized Newfoundlanders who had made important contributions to improving the lives of children and families.. Melba adopted best practices taken from the scientific literature and from pilot programmes and adapted these to assist families and their children. Two notable examples are the Healthy Baby Club and the Autism support programme. The Healthy Baby Club was built on the internationally recognized work of Aggie Higgins from the Montreal Diet Dispensary (prenatal support and food supplements) for healthy birth weights. Melba’s experience and understanding of the Seattle model – Early Parent Support Programme that trained parents to provide peer support , was adapted to develop the very effective Healthy Baby Club model which was adapted by the province of Newfoundland and Labrador for its prenatal nutrition initiative and was recognized by Health Canada for its innovation and effectiveness. For Autism Melba took a very successful autism intervention programme in Montreal and adapted it so that her staff at Daybreak could effectively work with children with autism.. Melba’s approach was always holistic.

Daybreak under the leadership of Melba was awarded a number of deserving awards including the coveted Centre of Excellence Award of the Vanier Institute for the Family for its Child Abuse Prevention. It also was awarded the National Crime Prevention Council Award in 1996 for its beat practices in investing in families. Melba was also a key advocate and leader in infant metal health.

For Melba’s contributions she was awarded the Order of Newfoundland in 2016 .

When Melba left Daybreak in 2002 she continued to make significant contributions with Food First Newfoundland and Labrador and with GEMMA. She and Mike were running an organic farm and Melba continued to use that avenue to provide ideas and recipes for some of the foods that were grown on the farm.

But I remember Melba most as a true friend. We had such wonderful times with she and her family when Toby, Louie and Avrom were growing up. Melba always had their best interests at heart. Throughout the years Melba and Mike and their family have been very important people in my life.

Melba I shall miss you. Your nurturing approach and your generosity will not be forgotten. It was hard to watch your body give out on you. You were an amazing person and I am forever appreciative that you were an important part of my life. We had some very good times together. Rest In Peace.

Hugs to Mike, Toby, Louie and Avrom.

Mike and family,
Kathy and I were so sorry to hear of Melba’s passing.. May she rest in peace.
.Kathy and Doug Mason

Mike and family,
I was terribly saddened to learn of Melba’s death. What a loss. She was a such a unique person with great intelligence, quick wit but above all, compassion and caring. I learned so much from Melba.

I am so sorry to hear of Melba’s passing. I knew Melba through her involvement with the Child and Youth Care Association of NL and GEMMA. Melba was a force! I admired her passion for children and families, and her ongoing quest to enhance services and educate parents and professionals. Melba was one of a kind and she will be missed.

In the early ’90s, Melba, together with Pat Wright, generously shared her knowledge and practice of community and early childhood development which helped many of us in Southwestern Newfoundland develop our vision of family support. They also introduced us to those working in the field nationally. Their contribution to our development has been invaluable.
Beverley Kirby (Community Education Network for Southwestern Newfoundland)

I knew Melba Rabinowitz I was a teacher assistant at Daybreak.RIP Melba.
From Daphne Privett

Dear Mike and family,
We are grieved to learn of Melba’s death. Her combination of initiative and active devoted championing of the needs of children and women has left an indelible mark on the society which she served so well. Hers was a stalwart soul, and all of us who knew her will remember her as a force for good. We are remembering her and you in our prayers.

Please accept my sincere condolences for the loss of Melba. I never had the pleasure of meeting Melba, however, the legacy of her work at Daybreak Parent Child Center has certainly impacted my life and the life of many others. May she rest in peace.

To Mike and all the family: Melba had a profound and positive impact on the lives of so many people, including mine. She was one of my thesis supervisors in the 90’s and we were connected for many years through Daybreak Parent Child Centre. She was a true visionary and leader and the many awards she received over the years certainly acknowledged her impact on our community. Rest in peace Melba.

To Mike and family,
Our thoughts and sympathies are with you in this difficult time.
Kim and Rick Whelan

To Mike and family,
So sorry to hear of Melba’s passing. Sending our condolences to you all.
Yvonne and John Jacobs

I remember Melba well from my days at MUN Extension Service. There I met a woman of strength, innovation, conviction and humour. There were few women in Extension at that time, so it was a pleasure when I had a chance to talk with her and enjoy her company. My condolences to all who knew Melba.

May her memory bring a blessing to all those that shared her life and dreams

RIP Melba.I will remember you kindly for your insight and vision to empower families facing challenges. You have touched the lives of many. You were a firm believer that parents want the best for their children…and when they know better, they will do better. You connected with those who struggled and helped them find their inner strength. You were a pioneer in the field of child and family services here in NL. Always thinking outside of the box when it came to working with families., finding the common ground and moving forward.. Thank you for all you have taught us. A life well lived.

My deepest sympathy to Mike, Toby, Louis, Avrom and all of Melba’s family. I had the honour of working with Melba at Daybreak Parent Child Centre for 10 years. Melba was a strong visionary and advocate for families. She saw things in ways we as individuals did not understand at the time however once her visions turned into reality we then embraced it. Melba had a strong sense of passion and determination. She would stand strong and advocate on things that she believed in even if it meant fighting the government. I remember all to well when the government was going to close Daybreak. The staff and families gathered in the basement of the old Daybreak on Barnes Road and there the presses began to roll out. I have never seen someone with such devotion lead a group of individuals to a path of success for families. Daybreak won that day and it was through the hard work Melba instilled in us. After leaving Newfoundland 16 years ago and going to Alberta to work as a consultant at the Centre for Autism Services Alberta I used some of the skills Melba implemented one being using a holistic approach when working with families. I showed the staff at the Centre how this approach would benefit families. It was interesting to see when I left the Centre a year ago and returned home how some of the comments staff mentioned about me was how they woud always remember to use a holistic approach when working with families. So Melba not only did you impact families and early childhood educators here in NL you did so in the west.. The community has lost a true advocate for all. Rest in peace.

to all who knew & this amazing & wonderful human being – you have my heartfelt condolences. Melba was a friend like no other, May our shared memories give us strength. S.I.S. (Soar In Spirit) Melba. – loving you always, terry

I am so sad to hear of Melba’s passing and my thoughts and prayers are with you Mike, Toby, Louis and Avrom. I loved working with Melba! With her we learned so much about supporting vulnerable children and families and that within every vulnerability lies strength. She was at heart a true nurturer and saw every opportunity to nurture those who were most in need of that support. Her passion and determination made her a force to be recognized and she was one of the greatest child advocates our province has ever known. At her core Melba was pure kindness, compassion and generosity and many, many times over the years I saw those qualities in action. I feel blessed to have known her, I consider her one of my greatest mentors and feel privileged to have been her friend. I will miss hearing her her always welcoming and warmly departing “darlin”.

. Mike, Toby, Louie and Avrom/Oz – so sorry for your loss, an enormous absence in your lives. Melba was one-of-a-kind, with an enormous, compassionate heart and a burning desire to do her part to improve the world around her, which she accomplished in spades. Melba touched countless lives, was a loyal friend, a devoted wife and mother, and she will be remembered as the special, loving person she was. And a terrific cook and hostess as well! All who knew her share your feeling of loss.

I am Thinking of Melbas immediate family and her community family. When I think of Melba I think of her kind sharing heart..
If you have time look up a meditation the Kaddish Yatom the Mourners Kaddish…..this is how I think of her now.
“You can love me best by letting hands touch hands,
By letting go of children that need to be free.
Love doesnt die, people do,
So when all that’s left of me is love,
Give me away.”

I have very fond memories of Melba fro. Meetings I had with her while I was working in go Ernest. She was always a breath of fresh sit – a real innovative thinker. A great loss.

Mike and Family,

We are so sorry for your loss. My you find comfort and peace at this time.

Mike, sending our heartfelt condolences at this very sad time.. Melba was a warm, & caring woman & will be greatly missed by all whose lives she touched.
Ian & Maura ❤

I worked with Melba for many years at Day Break. and knew her even longer. She was delightful and different and she worked so hard for both children and parents. I learned so much from her. She was such a lovely and dedicated person. If she wanted something, nothing could stop her. Alan and I send our sincere condolences to the family.

Mike and Family:
I am very saddened to learn of Melba’s death. She was the most passionate advocate for children and families that I ever had the privilege to know and work with. Our first encounter occurred when Melba first arrived in the province and was with MUN Extension . Her knowledge and expertise played a fundamental role in advancing community and government partnerships in the field of early childhood services in this province. Those were the days when access to family support services and access to child care services (let alone services based on building parenting skills and principles of early childhood education) were certainly not on the political radar. She was fearless and far ahead of the times. My lasting memory will be her very public rally for support when funding was cut to Daybreak Parent Child Center in the 1990’s. She encouraged and supported the parents of the Center to take the lead themselves which resulted in a meeting with Cabinet (!!) and getting the decision reversed. I learned so much from Melba and the other community leaders in the early childhood field and for that I will always be grateful. This province has lost a person who contributed much to our knowledge about community services and who was recognized for her efforts with the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador. She was one of a kind.

Mike & Family,
Sincere condolences for the loss of your wife and mom. Melba hired me fresh out of college in 1988 and taught me more than my diploma. She was intelligent, empathetic, gentle and a huge advocate for children and families. She helped our whole team learn about the High Scope Curriculum, mentored educators, set up amazing parenting programs and always put the children first. She will be missed by many.

Mike – we were so sorry to hear of Melba’s passing. Her contribution to the community was significant, and she will be fondly remembered.

Please accept my sincere condolences for the loss of Melba. I met Melba many years ago at Daybreak Parent Child Center. Her approach to her mission at Daybreak was passionate, innovative and dedicated. She regarded each Daybreak family with deep respect.

Melba’s writing retreats at the farm were memorable. She offered her home as a place for the Writers Guild to gather with customary generosity.

Melba was a generous and dynamic friend to her community.. Sincere condolences to her family.

So sorry to hear of Melba’s passing. She was a wonderful lady, with a wonderful zest for life. We were always welcomed at her home and if a dance broke out Melba normally was the instigator. She will be missed. We extend our condolences to Mike and the family..
Ken & Carmel Coleman

Mike and Family,
I was so sorry to read of Melba’s passing. Childcare in Newfoundland and Labrador has been deeply touched by Melba’s passion for young children and families. I often quote her many teachings. She has left a legacy for sure. Rest well Melba, thanks for sharing your knowledge and passion.

My condolences Mike and family. Melba helped so many children and families and has surely left her imprint on this city and beyond.

Mike, Toby, Avrom and Louis,
My deepest condolences on the loss of Your partner and mother. She was a wonderful woman; always so warm and welcoming anytime we would meet. She will be greatly missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to get to know her over the years, my family included. Grief is the price we pay for love and I know no one loved her more than you all so please take care and know we are thinking of you at this time.
All our love
Jennifer, Karl, Erik And Anna Sorensen

I am saddened to hear of melbass passing and regret that the Covid times has prevented interaction these past two years
She was a true mentor to me as a young women working with young children and became a lifetime friend
I met her in 1985
Melba inspired advocacy by just being herself
She cared deeply for everyone she encountered
I have many wonderful memories and am confident that her family and large circle of friends also hold that sentiment
Rest In Peace melba

So sorry for you loss Mike & family. I know Melba will be sadly missed by many.

Judie Squires

Toby & Family;
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Mom. . My Deepest condolences to you & your family .
May God see you through this difficult time. God Bless.
Doris Freake
(from Tai Chi)

My sincere condolences to Mike and the children. I have many memories of Melba at Daybreak . She was a teacher to all of us no matter how experienced we were. Love to Toby

Barbara Hopkins

Mike and Family;

I am so very sorry to read about Melba’s passing. and extend my sincerest condolences to you all.

Melba certainly was a force to be reckoned with as she was driven by her passions for children at risk, writing and the OFarm. She was the kind of person you could look up to in her steadfast desire to leave the world a better place than she found it.

I learned so much from her working with her over the years and I am grateful that I came to get to know her and work so closely with her.. I am a better person for having crossed paths with her.

My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

Mike, Toby, Louis and Avrom,

I’m so sorry to read of Melba’s passing.. I have so many childhood memories spending time at your house.

Thinking of you all during this difficult time. Sending thoughts and prayers.

Melba will always be remembered for her passion for children in the Early Learning and Child Care community here in NL. I have fond memories of Melba from her all-consuming support for children who needed support most at Daybreak to her leading a conga line around the ballroom at a child care conference 30+ years ago. She has left an imprint on the child care sector that will not be forgotten. Rest in peace.

Dear Mike, Oz, Lou, and Toby

I am so sorry to hear of Melba’s passing. Working at the O Farm set me on the path I am today – how else could you know about corn that sweet?
I am grateful to have known her.
My sincerest condolences
Sarah Crocker

It has been many years since we have seen one another, but I remember well Melba’s smiling face and unique style. I know she will be missed by all who knew her far better than I ever did.
My thoughts are with you and your children at this sad and most difficult time in your lives.

Dear Mike and family, I was so sad to hear of Melba’s passing. I was sure she could live forever, her spirit was so big! She influenced me always in my work and the way I came to think about the world, and community and how to be with people, She will live on in the individuals she touched . Love to you all, Barbara Case

Mike and family
So sorry to learn of Melba’s passing away.
She left a mark on our community that will be felt forever.

Dear Mike and family- my deepest condolences on Melba’s passing.. Her generous spirit and kindness (always mixed with straight talk!) always made me feel grateful that there are people in the world like her. I know her loss will be felt deeply by you and many others.

Please accept my deepest condolence on your mother’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time for you and your family.

Her kindness and generosity will never be forgotten by the families whose lives she touched.
Sincere condolences,
Yvonne Manning

So sorry to hear of Melba’s passing. My memories of her go all the way back to Teach a Tot. I was at times afraid of, impressed, awed and puzzled by Melba but mostly I admired her courage and determination to do the best she could for families and children. She made a difference and that is an understatement. RIP great lady.

Melba was a mentor, friend and a leading light in my work with babies. She worked hard and made a difference in the lives of so many families.

My sincere condolscences to the family I was a parent that 4 of my children attended daybreak Melba was awesome lady with heart of gold she will be missed by so much by many I have so many good memories of melba