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Priscilla Elizabeth Modisette McNeil

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Priscilla Elizabeth Modisette McNeil, 92, passed away Saturday, May 4, 2013 in Dallas Texas. A public school teacher in Angelina County for over thirty years, Elizabeth taught thousands of students the joy of reading and encouraged many to take up the teaching career. She and her husband, Byron McNeil, reared many family members, including their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other relatives. She was a member of Lufkin's First Baptist Church for over 70 years, and a member of Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, since 2009. Services will be held Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 10 a.m. at The Chapel of Lufkin's First Baptist Church. Elizabeth was born August 29, 1920 in the home of her parents, Augusta (Hawkins) and David Hampton Modisette in the Lala Hill Community of southern Angelina County. She was the third of four sisters, and had one brother. Her family moved to Huntington during the Depression and she later attended Huntington High School and played basketball for the Red Devilettes. Her parents later moved to Lufkin where she graduated from Lufkin High School. In 1938, she enrolled in college at Stephen F. Austin State Teachers' College in Nacogdoches, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in August 1941. She earned her Master of Education degree from SFA State College in August 1956. Her love of teaching was inspired by her father, Dave Modisette, a pioneer Angelina County educator, and by the academic discipline of teaching young people to appreciate a story and having the desire to read. On Christmas Day, 1941, less than three weeks after Pearl Harbor, she married Byron McNeil whom she had met at Abrams clothing store where he worked; they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1991. While Mac went to the Army, Elizabeth began her first teaching job in Central. During the war, she moved to Mineral Wells where Mac was stationed. After the war, Lib and Mac moved to Lufkin and built their home on Pershing Avenue. She continued her teaching career in Lufkin, serving in various elementary schools, including Central and Slack. She retired after 38 years of service. Her most proud professional accomplishment was the development of individualized reading instruction that focused on unlocking the reading zeal of each student. Despite some opposition from District administrators, her success became recognized and a model for other reading teachers. She was equally proud of her family who became teachers, including Sharon Stracener and Jill Haltom. Alongside her professional career, Elizabeth devoted herself to rearing her children, grandchildren and other family members. She taught a love of learning and the importance of gaining your college education, and she instilled a practical and positive Christianity that believed in both respect of all people and the confidence that you were a child of God. She also loved to play dominoes, and won the forty-two adult championship one year at First Baptist Church. She spent many joyous times playing dominoes with her family and friends, including a game on her 92nd birthday. In 2001, she moved to Dallas to be close to her daughter, Mary Jayne McNeil, and her family. In 2011, she moved to Sunrise at Hillcrest, where she lived until she passed. Her caregivers remarked that she brought them kindness and mercy, and they loved her sweetness and good nature. She is preceded in death by her husband, Byron McNeil; sisters, Ruby Hicks and Dennie Culbertson; brother, Van Modisette; and great-grandson, Camden Haltom. Survivors include: Sister, Bernice Maberry; Children, Judy McNeil, Shreveport; Larry McNeil and Anne Bartley, San Francisco; Gary and Ann McNeil, Seattle; and Mary Jayne McNeil, Dallas. Grandchildren: Greg and Josie Phelps, Chicago; Jill and James Haltom, Dallas; Joshua McNeil, Philadelphia; Rebekah and Mandy McNeil, Costa Rica; Cybele Cirie, Guilford, Connecticut; Amanda Schaer, Seattle; Andrea Cirie, New York; Sam McNeil, Tucson; Ben McNeil, New Orleans; Kate Pumphrey, Austin; and William Pumphrey, Dallas; and numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends. The family will welcome friends and loved ones from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday evening at Carroway Funeral Home. Memories and condolences may be added at www.carrowayfuneralhome.com. Carroway Funeral Home, Lufkin, directors.
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Published in The Lufkin Daily News on May 10, 2013
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