Melissa Michele Pugh-McCray, 43, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, passed peacefully on Friday, March 6, 2020, at her home. Born in Greenville, South Carolina, on December 22, 1978, she was a daughter of Thomas Lewis Aiken and the late Clara Rine Clinkscales Pugh. Melissa was known for her brilliant mind and outstanding achievements. She continuously stayed on the honor roll throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school. Throughout high school Melissa was a part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program for students who want to be challenged. She ranked in the top 10% of her class with a 4.1 GPA average and graduated with honor from Southside High School in 1997. Melissa followed her mother, Clara Clinkscales Pugh’s, academic career at Rutledge College, by attending Clemson University, one of the most prestigious colleges in the state of South Carolina. During Melissa’s studies in college, she worked for Clemson University Department of Housing as a Resident Advisor Academic Mentor and was involved in multiple scholarly organizations. She was a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars and The National Honor Society. Through her college studies she was recognized for her great talents. On December 20, 2001, Melissa graduated from Clemson University, Magna Cum Laude and received her honorific Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with great distinction.
After graduating, Melissa followed her former college sweetheart, Scot McCray, to New Jersey, and pursued her career in elementary education, teaching 2nd and 3rd graders for almost 6 years." On February, 15, 2003, she married her former husband, Scot McCray, bearing two handsome sons within their 10 years of marriage. During her last days Melissa found joy socializing at work with customers, attending her children’s social activities, engaging in community events as well as reconnecting with family and childhood friends. She was a mother, sister, cousin, friend, mentor, role model, and much more to each and every one of you. Most of all she was loved by many.
Surviving, along with her dad, two sons, Chandler S.N. McCray and Preston J.N. McCray, both of Camden, NJ; her stepdad, Bobby L. Clinkscales of Greenville, SC; maternal grandmother, Gladys Kearse; one brother, Joshua B. Clinkscales of Greenville; one sister, Cianna C.B Clinkscales of Greenville; seven aunts, Bobbie P. (Peter) Kpapharo, of NY, Brenda Kearse, Gloria (Antonio) Williams, Linda Aikens, Lula Dogan, Shirley Aiken, all of Greenville, SC, and Tinny Cooper of Columbia; two uncles, James C. (Sandra) Pugh, Sr., of Greenville and Odell Pugh, of New Orleans, LA; and a host of other relatives and friends.
Melissa was preceded in death by her mother, Clara Rine Clinkscales; paternal grandfather, Willie Kearse; maternal grandfather, Costell Pugh; maternal grandmother, Beulah Pugh; and two aunts, Joyce Donald and Mazie Kearse.