2:04 AM / Wednesday June 7, 2023

23 Dec 2021

Obituary: Philadelphia native Emily Vaughan Melendez, 61

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
December 23, 2021 Category: Local Posted by:

A life of service, commitment to justice and a legacy of love.

These attributes are but a few that defined the life of Emily V. Melendez — Assistant Attorney General for Connecticut — who died unexpectedly on December 12. She was 61.

She was born Emily Rebecca Vaughan on March 21,1960, to the late Eversley and Frances Vaughan in Philadelphia, the third of four children. Emily began her education in the Philadelphia Public School System, first at the C.W. Henry Elementary School, followed by the Philadelphia High School for Girls in 1978. After graduating from high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Hartford in 1982, as well as a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut in 1997. 

 In 1985, Emily married Luis Melendez, the love of her life. Luis and Emily shared many interests and traveled to many destinations over the years. Some of their favorite places to be were together on their boat — “The Emily R” — and the beach. Together, they built a legacy of love in Connecticut — love that was freely shared with their friends and relatives, especially their nieces, nephews and grandchildren, who they doted upon. 

Emily loved being an aunt, sister and friend. She was a born advocate who was strongly influenced by her parents, who were also dedicated to serving others. Even as a child, Emily possessed wisdom beyond her years when it came to matters of current events, especially the Civil Rights Movement, which her father was actively involved in on a local level. She believed in educational attainment, and loved to celebrate with nieces, nephews, and other children special to her and Luis by commemorating graduations and other achievements. 

 It was a natural segue for Emily to make the lateral career move from legislative aide to former Gov. Lowell Weicker to that of Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut. She was fiercely committed to matters of justice, fairness and equity. 

She also expressed this commitment by volunteering with various non-profit organizations and giving generously to those in need. 

 A lifelong arts aficionado, Emily enjoyed music from many genres and generations. It was not unusual for her to create playlists on paper with her sister Amy — pre-internet streaming services — and create cassettes that included symphonies, funk, standards, pop, soul and folk music, among many others. If the music was good, she was happy. She also had a love of gardening and nature. One particular Vaughan family tradition started by her mother and Aunt Eleanor was to go to the annual Philadelphia Flower Show, which in later years she and her sister Celeste and nieces went. Emily and her sister Celeste also had adventures together including trips to see Broadway plays and shared a special love of Prince. 

Even though she was not a pet owner, Emily had a special place in her heart for animals, especially horses. When she was in high school, she volunteered at a local stable in exchange for the privilege of riding. She would spend hours mucking out the stalls, pitching hay, brushing and talking to the horses, and knew each of their personalities and temperaments. Her paternal grandmother, Olga — who emigrated to the United States from Barbados in the early 20s — was especially pleased to learn of Emily’s passion, as she too had been an enthusiastic rider as a youth.

She leaves to grieve family and friends — her loving husband Luis Melendez of Ledyard, Conn.; extended family members Kevin X. Lai, wife Leang Kouch and their children Dylan and Brandon of Guilford, Conn., and Clara Mena of West Haven, Conn.; nieces Tracee and Mary Melendez of Clinton, Conn., and a number of other brothers and sisters-in-law; sisters Amy V. Simmons and Celeste Vaughan-Briggs, her husband Robert, children Joel and Lauren Briggs, son Robert Briggs III, his wife Mary Lee and their children Elle and Oliva; nieces and nephews Herman, Adele and Grace Simmons, sister Leah Vaughan, and a host of cousins and colleagues.

There will be a Celebration of Life at a future date to be determined.

 In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her memory to the Connecticut Food Bank at: or the University of Pennsylvania Hospice Friends Fund at:  in memory of Frances Vaughan (her mother). 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Fur Babies Rule!

Five expert tips to help you prioritize your pet’s health

June 2, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT A healthy pet doesn’t happen by accident. Even a dog or cat...

Philly NAACP

NAACP Philadelphia branch update

June 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email Tweet Share Pin Email Related Posts AACP Philadelphia Branch Update NAACP Philadelphia Branch...


After sailing though House on bipartisan vote, Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal now goes to Senate

June 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., joined by fellow Democrats, speaks...

Suburban News

Delaware County holds Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration on June 19 in Rose Tree Park

June 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email Delaware County will hold is second annual Juneteenth Celebration on Monday, June 19...


Guest Commentary:  Expand access to life saving Alzheimer’s drug

June 2, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email By Rep. Darisha Parker,  (D-198 Dist.) Imagine losing your cognitive ability while your...


A New Prescription

June 6, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email New 76ers coach Nick Nurse hopes he has the treatment that will get...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff