Melba McConnaughey
1932 - 2016
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Melba Jean Taylor McConnaughey 1932 - 2016 From as early an age as she could remember, Melba Jean McConnaughey wanted to be a classroom teacher. And although she retired after nearly 40 years as a high school teacher of English in Arkansas, Texas and Washington, she continued to be an educator, counselor and friend to everyone she met. She has really touched the future. She passed away peacefully in her sleep on Thursday, December 15, 2016 at the side of her husband, lover, best friend and life partner - Don McConnaughey. She was born in Mount Ida, Arkansas on September 12, 1932 to the Reverend E.W. Taylor and his wife - Dezzie Eurcel Montgomery. She was the oldest child and began managing her family's household with the help of her mom. There was never any doubt she was in charge. It was that spirit to be a dynamic influence in the lives of thousands of teenaged students, that drove her to successfully mentor kids in how to read, speak, write and demonstrate critical thinking, civility and with fairness for all. She was famous for challenging intellectual students to not go along with the crowd and by becoming a non-conformist. Melba was raised as her Baptist preacher father moved to shepherd church congregations around the state of Arkansas. She graduated from Arkansas State Teacher's College in Conway, but not before marrying the handsome football hero Don. His National Guard Artillery unit was deployed to combat in Korea in 1950, putting his education and athletics on hold until he was able to return home as an Army Master Sergeant. Despite exhortation by his commanding officer to transfer and play football at the US Military Academy, the combat veteran returned to ASTC/UCA where he was promoted in rank as Co-Captain of the football team, and Melba was a Homecoming Queen, a Drum Majorette and member of the marching band. They graduated together from ASTC (now known as the University of Central Arkansas) in 1955 and both immediately were hired midyear to their first jobs in Norphlet, Arkansas. The next year they were hired by the Amarillo Texas. school district - she teaching English at Tascosa High School, and Don as a biology teacher, Assistant Football coach under Bum Phillips, and as head Track and Field coach. They both attended West Texas State University and earned Master's Degrees, but in 1961 they were recruited by the Highline School District at Highline High School. Melba serving as English Department Chairman, as well as Cheerleader and Pep Club Advisor. Don later moved on to Highline Community College, where he taught and coached before becoming Athletic Director. Melba retired from Highline in 1993. Don and Melba were great partners together designing and building four dream homes - one at Redondo, Washington, another on the beach at Vashon Island and her final glory was a lakeside villa gloried by extensive lakeside gardens in Ocean Shores, Washington. Until her passing Don and Melba maintained a close community of other retired professionals in Ocean Shores. She was an active member and Deaconess and teacher at Faith Community Church in Ocean Shores. Melba was a master gardener and an accomplished avid photographer. Melba loved her family, who survive her - Doug (Suzanne), Tom (Sheri) and Tim, as well as a long retinue of loving canine pals. One idea of the hereafter, she said was being greeted in heaven by all of the dogs that had been a part of her life. But demonstrably greater love by Melba were for her four grandchildren who survive her: Donny McConnaughey, Everett Taylor McConnaughey, Neva Marie McConnaughey and Monica Meek (Will). She was their greatest cheerleader, and despite the all-knowing eye of a classroom teacher, she knew how to set and follow educational and professional goals with a huge dose of deep love and devotion. When one set of grandkids were present, she bragged about the other set of grandkids, and then when they were present she would brag about the others. She loved them all deeply and she is loved in return! Melba was preceded in death by her parents and sister Jeannine. She is survived by her husband Don; her sister Berniece Trimble of Amarillo, Texas; brothers Bill Taylor (Carol) of Beaumont, Texas and brother Jim Taylor (Lynnette) of Palm Springs, California and niece Mary Ellen Butler (Gene) and nephew Paul McConnaughey (Elizabeth) of Ventura, California. Visitation will be from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, and Thursday, December 22, 2016, at the Coleman Mortuary, 422 5th Street in Hoquiam, Washington. Funeral service will be held at 1:00 pm, Friday, December 23, 2016, at the Faith Community Church in Ocean Shores with Pastor John Matson officiating. Burial will be at Washington Memorial Park at SeaTac. There will be a Celebration of Life in Ocean Shores in January, 2017. Friends, former students and colleagues are cordially invited to attend all activities. Please take a moment to record your thoughts by signing the on-line register at

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Published in News Tribune (Tacoma) on Dec. 20, 2016.
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18 entries
July 3, 2017
Mrs McConnaughey was my Highline High School "Honors English" teacher. It was a challenging class during a challenging time for me, and Mrs. McConnaughey's expectations for her students were high, especially those of us who happened to bear the label of "Honors Students." I can still remember her encouraging us on to increasingly greater heights in creativity and composition.

Today, upon once again hearing Mrs. McConnaughey's voice in my head reminding me of proper grammar, I decided to contact her and let her know about the positive impact she had on my life, especially on my writing. The skills I learned in Mrs. McConnaughey's class enabled me to be a writing tutor at a community college and then propelled me through my bachelor's and master's degrees. Several of my professors have commented about my writing abilities and creativity. I continue to utilize these skills regularly as a licensed mental health professional while documenting client care, conducting diagnostic assessments, or communicating with other service providers. And, like today, when I find myself briefly stumped with a grammatical challenge, I hear "Melba's" voice reminding me how to utilize proper grammar.

I am saddened to learn of the death of Mrs. McConnaughey, and I know that she touched many, many lives. Like most of her students, I was largely unaware of the value of her training. When I became a writing tutor, I was stunned and dismayed to learn that most college students never had opportunity to have a "Melba" in their corner coaching their writing efforts. I remain humbled and grateful for everything Mrs. McConnaughey taught me, for I have no doubt that what I learned from her in one short year . . . will last a lifetime.

My belated condolences to the family and friends of Melba McConnaughey.

Blessings and peace,

Sharon (Carlson) Raugutt, Class of 1986
Sharon Raugutt
December 22, 2016
I am a former student of Highline High school from 1972. Melba was my English teacher and I always enjoyed her class even though it was a hard class. I always loved her smile and she taught me some great lessons. She enjoyed all her students.
My condolences go to the family and I will keep her in my prayers.

God bless,
Pauline Hoyt
Pauline Hoyt
December 22, 2016
Melba was a great English teacher. I really enjoyed her class. She will be missed.
Jerry Lessard
December 22, 2016
Melba was my favorite teacher. She inspired me to also be a high school English teacher. What a privilege! I am grateful.
Lorene Pearson
December 21, 2016
Mrs. McConnaughey was a terrific teacher who made a big impact in my life. I think of her often when I am writing or helping my own kids or students with their writing. She will be missed.
Julie Delaney
December 21, 2016
Thank you, Melba Mae, for your amazing service to your students!! I was fortunate to spend two years under your very attentive care!

With the expectation of excellence, Mrs. McConnaughey nurtured my writing skills, as well as my confidence in my abilities. I remain forever grateful! Her strength in sharing her knowledge, mixed with her even stronger southern accent, made her classes not only worth all the time and effort poured forth to obtain that expected "A", but also made learning quite fun. One thing she would always say as she entered class after spending time in the halls, just completely cracked us up.."I just cannot STAND seein' those kee-ids makin' lovvveee in the haulllls!"

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of one of my most favorite teachers, Mrs. Melba Mae McConnaughey. ❤

Sherry Lynn Hill-Taylor, HHS Class of 1988
Sherry Taylor
December 21, 2016
Katherine Degel
December 21, 2016
Melba and Kandice (Peterson) Gress
Katherine Degel
December 21, 2016
At Ocean Shores
Mrs. McConnaughy was my favorite teacher at Highline. She was a tough cookie, always challenging her students. I had the pleasure of being her T.A. for two years. My love of Shakespeare and my ability to write a decent essay can be attributed to her - the latter helped me earn a bachelor's and a master's degree. I was fortunate enough to reconnect with her several years ago during a visit to Ocean Shores, and I met her precious four-legged friends. She was so proud of her family...we spent hours talking about them!

She was a one of a kind teacher, mentor, and friend. She will be missed. My condolences to her family.
Katherine (Godfrey) Degel
December 21, 2016
I have to admit, I was a thorn in Mrs. McConnaughey's side. I talked too much and paid attention too little, and rarely did I put in the effort she'd like to have seen.

I also learned more from her than should be allowed. She taught us how to write...not how to get an idea on paper, but how to actually think critically and quickly, to express concepts rather than disjointed thoughts, and to structure those concepts into something worthwhile.

Her class was tough, but those lessons sucessfully got me through a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees, and now allow me to help my high school aged children improve their writing. I'm forever grateful.

Please accept my deepest condolences.
Jenny Kleimeier
December 21, 2016
Mrs. McConnaughey had a greater impact on me than she ever knew--because I never really told her. I wish that I had. I wish that I'd put the words to paper and sent them to her. I think I might have been afraid to let her know how I struggled, even long after I left her classroom. I always hated the idea of disappointing her. I'd like her family to know, though, what a difference she made in one life--because I am only one of the many, many students whose lives she improved. I want you to know, that if you sometimes had to come second to papers that needed to be graded or lessons that needed to be planned, that her work was appreciated and so important to those of us who sat in her classroom. I didn't put the words to paper, but I've put them here:

My heartfelt condolences to all of her family. I know how deeply and fiercely she loved you, and I can only imagine how much you have loved her.
Rita Ott
December 21, 2016
Mrs. McConnaughey (also affectionately known as "Melba Toast" and "The Southern Belle") was an amazing teacher. She challenged us every day and clearly gave her students a glimpse of what college English Classes would be like. I vividly remember trekking to the 500 Building my senior year (48 years ago) to face the "3 M's...Meyers, McConnaughey and Marchbank and thinking I'd better be prepared.
David Larson
December 21, 2016
So sad to hear about her passing.
I remembered her through the years as an educator that recognized a gift of writing that I never knew I had.
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Wendy (Winter) Stanley
Wendy Stanley
December 21, 2016
Don and Melba.. What a great"impact" teaching team! Thanks for your life's work...
Joe Baisch
December 21, 2016
Mrs McConnaughey was an amazing teacher...I credit her for any writing success I might have had at the UW. Thank you..prayers to the family...she talked about her children often in class..
Kristie Hilson
December 21, 2016
I had Mrs. McConnaughey for Junior year Honors English composition at Highline High School in 1984-85. There are very few teachers that make a true lasting impact on your life, but for years now I have been a writer with regular feature articles, columns and published works. I have been praised for my non-traditional writing style that readers can relate to, but I can honestly say that each time, no matter what it is that I am writing, there is always a southern-tinged voice in the back of my head saying "Bradley, I taught you better than that....". Yes, ma'am, you did. But the reason I CAN write the way that I do is BECAUSE you did. Thank you.
Brad Haskin
December 21, 2016
❤Sending condolences...from one of her students at Highline High School...we are all better because of Mrs. McConnaughey.
December 20, 2016
Unforgettable teacher. So sorry for your loss.
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