Northam Appointee Fatality Was Graduate of GMHS

Samuel Hughes Melton, age 52 of Bristol, Virginia, appointed in 2017 by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to be the state’s Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, died the result of a traffic accident in Augusta County in southern Virginia Aug. 2.

Melton was a 1985 graduate of Falls Church’s George Mason High School. Born in Miami, Florida, he was the son of Howard Ivy Melton and Betty Hughes Melton. He was preceded in death by his mother, Betty Hughes Melton. Melton graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he studied German and Interdisciplinary Studies. He then went on to study at the UVA School of Medicine, where he served as class president and stayed at UVA to complete his family medicine residency, where he served as house staff president. Following residency, he served in the US Army at Fort Campbell and Fort Bragg. He then opened C-Health, PC in Lebanon, Virginia where he cared for patients in Russell County. He became board certified in Addiction Medicine and cared for his patients with substance use disorders at HighPower, PC in Lebanon. He was awarded the 2011 Family Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians. He became the chief medical officer at the Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Virginia as Chief Medical Officer for the Virginia facilities of Legacy Mountain States Health Alliance. He received the Servant’s Heart Award, the highest patient service award granted by Ballad Health. During this time, he received his Master’s in Business Administration from the Darden School of Business at UVA. In 2015, Melton was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Health Department. After two years in this position, he was appointed by Virginia Governor Northam to the position of Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, Aug. 11, at Fellowship Chapel, 201 Crockett St. in Bristol, Virginia. Visitation will begin at 2 p.m. and will end at 5 p.m., followed by a service at 5 p.m. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the UVA Cancer Center, Betty Hughes Melton Memorial Fund. Donations can be mailed to UVA Health Foundation, PO Box 400807, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4807, or made online at Condolences can be sent to the family at