Longtime Quay author, teacher, historian Lynn Moncus dies at 79

By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor

Lynn Moncus

Lynn Moncus

Lynn Moncus, a long-time columnist for the Quay County Sun, as well as an author, teacher and historian, died Monday evening after a bout with bone cancer.  She was 79 years old.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday in the Dunn Memorial Chapel.  A brief graveside service will follow.

Moncus wrote weekly columns for the Sun and its predecessors from 1964 to April 2014, when she stopped the column due to her illness.

In that final column, she wrote, “I first started writing for Bob Nelson for a tabloid that he published here years ago.  I wrote under the name Lotta Malaprop, which means Lotta Mistakes.”  Nelson persuaded her to use her own name for the column when Nelson began working for the Tucumcari Daily News, she said.

Moncus wrote the book “Quay County, New Mexico, 1903 to 2003, A Pictorial History,” which described county history community by community.

She graduated from Tucumcari High School in 1952 and attended the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, which later became New Mexico State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English in three years.  She then taught public school in Forrest and Tucumcari.  In 1963,  she earned advanced degrees in counseling and guidance from the University of Texas at El Paso, and joined the English faculty at NMSU, where she taught Southwestern literature and folklore, retiring as a full professor after 25 years.

She returned to Quay County in 1989.  Later, she co-edited a book called “Quay County, 1903 to 1985,” with Marian Farmer Knapp, and edited and published a novel written by her grandmother, Laura Carter Moncus, called “Sadie Didn’t Want to Go Pioneering.”

After retirement, Lynn Moncus  remained active with the Tucumcari Historical Research Institute  and helped organize Rattler Reunions.

Elizabeth Morris, Tucumcari, and Yvette Peacock, owner of Del’s Restaurant, where Moncus wrote many of her columns at a dining table, provided care for Moncus during her final months.
“She was the epitome of a good friend,” Morris said, “loyal and supportive.”

Peacock said she remembers most that Moncus, “had a love for the county.  It was the only place she wanted to be.”

“For someone who never married,” Morris said, “she had so many kids, former students who were honored to have her for a teacher.”

She also taught “by example,” Morris said, through “her loyalty as a friend and engagement in community service.  She would help in quiet ways, financially and with emotional support.”

Peacock, who has taken custody of Moncus’s Labrador retriever, Prissy, said Moncus also displayed a “love for her dogs.”

Daisyann Walker Palmer, author of “A Walker Trilogy: Three to Read on Walker Mountain,” a book about her family’s history starting on Walker Mountain in the Quay Valley, said Moncus’s death is “a great loss.  I’m sad that I didn’t get to spend more time with her.”

Walker remembers discussing her book plans with Moncus.

“She was so encouraging,” Walker said.

Norma Jean Crellin, who worked with Moncus as a coordinator of the annual Rattler Reunion, said, “Lynn  Moncus was a lifelong friend who will be dearly missed.  It will be different not having her at the Rattler Reunion. Her presence will surely be missed.”

Crellin said she had been friends with Moncus since both played in the Tucumcari High School Band.  Crellin also entered college with Moncus and taught alongside her in Quay County after both completed undergraduate education.

In the foreward to “Quay County New Mexico, 1903-2003,”  Moncus told her readers (applying  “he” to male and female readers) what each would find:

“He will recall the first taffy pull he attended, the first shivaree (a noisy mock serenade to a newlywed couple on their wedding night) and many other firsts.

“He will recall the hard work that went into the settling of the area and remember the wood stoves, the flat irons, the hand-held plows, the water buckets and the outdoor facilities.

“He will remember the funerals he attended beside the hand-dug graves and will recall the singing conventions that were once so popular.

“Many ideas will occur as he lets his mind relax into the past.  Just sit back and enjoy this sketch of our Quay County.”

Senior Writer Thomas Garcia contributed to this story.

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