Where are they now? Melodye (Gay) Olsavsky
Township native Melodye Olsavsky was born September 7, 1959. The oldest of five
daughters born to Homer and Bonnie (Savering) Gay, Melodye and two of her sisters,
Susan Gay and Esther Primel, along with their parents, live in Jackson Township.
The remaining daughters; Deborah Smith, of North East, Maryland, and Heather Baker
of Colbert, Georgia, find the southern climate more to their liking.
Melodye (Gay) Olsavsky
recent photo | high school photo
Melodye is a 1977 graduate of Central Cambria High School where she was active
in chorus and had singing parts in school musicals. She also attended Grace College
in Winona Lake, Indiana, for two years, where she majored in communications.
to Daniel Olsavsky from Nanty Glo since May 16, 1980, she and Dan are the parents
of two children. Amanda Joy, 21, is a junior majoring in jazz music and English
literature at Towson University in Maryland, and their son, Brent, 17, is a junior
at Central Cambria and lives at home with his parents.
started out as a volunteer situation turned into employment for Melodye. She works
part-time for the Central Cambria School District as a choir assistant. She provides
the piano accompaniment for all the concerts held for the school district, which
includes the elementary programs as well as middle school and high school musical
"I've been with the school district
for eight years," she says, "five years as a volunteer, and three years as
an employee." Melodye's musical roots are deeply embedded in Gospel music. Her
musically talented family has been singing and playing Gospel music for as long
as she remembers. Melodye, her sister Suzie, along with their parents started
singing in churches when the girls were three years old. For a while when the
girls were very young, the family lived in Telford, near Philadelphia, where the
family performed at churches, Gospel radio programs, and campgrounds.
mom and dad each played the guitar and we all sang," she says, "But I was
very young and the memories fade...." Melodye has been playing the piano since
she was eight years old. "I took lessons from a local minister's wife, Mrs. Koontz,"
she recalls. As she got older and while in high school, she continued to perform
in musical productions. In high school, she was the first person from Central
Cambria School District to make All State Chorus, and while at Grace College she
performed in a singing group and played the role of Lucy in You're a Good Man,
"I took singing lessons
while in college, but before that, my dad taught me," she says, "He's been singing
since he was three years old." At the age of 30, Melodye was diagnosed as having
multiple sclerosis. "I went into deep depression and denial. 'I can beat this
thing,' I felt, but I learned that you can't beat it, you must work with it."
By the time she was 36 years old, Melodye was confined to a wheelchair and had
developed a bleeding ulcer from the effects of her medication. Seven years ago,
she made what was for her a life-altering decision. "I read an article about the
effects of exercize on multiple sclerosis and started going to the gym," she says.
"I started using the treadmill and the weight machines...I progressed from the
wheelchair to the walker and now I'm ambulatory."
a year and a half ago, she started using Yoga as a form of treatment and self-management
of her disease. "I am no longer wheelchair bound," she says, " I have my bad days
here and there, and occasionally need a wheelchair when I go shopping, but for
the most part, I'm able to do without it." Melodye uses both the Hatha and the
Kundalini methods of Yoga. The Hatha method is used for posing and the stretching
of her muscles, and the Kundalini method for meditation and posing also. She has
been so inspired by the effects of Yoga on her disease that she is thinking about
becoming a Yoga instructor at some time in the future.
must keep active to stay active," she says."I live my life in spite of my disease,
but I understand my limitations." Melodye says she has stayed away from the various
support groups. "I prefer my connections to be more positive; my friends are women
my age who have children...they are my support group.
"When I was young, we just had fun as a family; our house was always full of people.
We sang a lot and laughed a lot...my childhood was great! My mom and dad provided
a safe, fun home for us and we knew we were loved...and I miss the uncomplicated
life that it was.
"Jackson Township was a
great place to grow up in," she says. "I wish it were more economically stable
so the young people wouldn't find it necessary to leave to find work."
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