By Thomas Garcia
It has been three weeks but I wanted to share some of what I heard while attending the funeral of Lynn Moncus and my thoughts and experiences in getting to know her.
Family and friends gathered on June 27 at Dunn’s Memorial Chapel in Tucumcari to pay their final respects to Mary Lynn Moncus, a teacher to many local residents, avid Quay County enthusiast and noted columnist whose weekly stories took readers on a journey through the canyons of Ima.
“I was saddened yet honored, when Lynn asked me to officiate for her funeral,” said Fred Caton, pastor. “She said I was one of her boys and would know what to say. Coming from Lynn that was one of the greatest compliments one could receive.”
Caton officiated over the memorial service and spoke about the strength of Moncus’ faith and how her life’s pursuit reflected one of her favorite prayers, the the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi.
“Lord make me an instrument of your peace,” Caton said, quoting the prayer. “Lynn was very much an instrument in all that she did, in helping to mold the minds of her students, preserving the history of Quay County and being instrumental in all of our lives in so many ways.”
Mark Nixon, who said he was one of Lynn’s relatives, said, “I am probably one of the few that could get away with calling Lynn ‘Mary Lynn.’”
“I always though of Lynn as a second cousin,” he said, “though Lynn would tell me I was actually a first cousin once removed.”
Nixon also said Lynn was “quick to correct you.”
“It was part of who she was from all those years as an educator,” he said.
Nixon said he kept in touch with Moncus and would usually try to call her on Sundays, after she had taken a trip to the canyons.
“Mary Lynn enjoyed the time out in the canyons because it gave her a chance to think, reconnect with home and communicate with God,” Nixon said.
When Moncus talked about “her” girls and boys, Nixon said, she was speaking of her former students She took much pride in her students, he said, and they meant the world to her. It always made her happy to know they were doing well.
“Mary Lynn impacted many of our lives, as a teacher, friend, relative and through her column that she faithfully wrote for many years,” Nixon said.
When he was a boy, Nixon said, Moncus took him fishing at Ute Lake.
“At the time I was learning to chew tobacco and thought I was doing a good job of hiding it from Mary Lynn,” Nixon said. “Mary Lynn let me believe that I had in fact hid it from her only to inform my mother when we returned to Nara Visa that I was in fact chewing tobacco.”
Nixon said she was the last of the Moncus line and her passing is a loss for all of the county, its shared memories and its history that she helped to record and preserve.
“Every time I spoke to Mary Lynn she believed and always tried to convince me, that Tucumcari/Quay County was the greatest place to live,” Nixon said.
Over the years, I got to know Lynn and came to call her a friend. Each week I would take her column and prepare it for the weekly run. During those years I shared many great conversations with Lynn, covering just about every topic one could imagine.
We shared a mutual and dearly departed friend, Travis Nelson. Lynn attended college with Travis and had called her a friend many years before I was born. We agreed that Travis was a wonderful woman who dedicated much of her life to improving young people lives through her work in 4-H.
Lynn got quite a kick out of the story I shared with her about the time Travis picked up a tree branch and told a rattle snake to “Shoo. Go on now. Git.”
We shared some laughs and traded some interesting stories about people and the history of Quay County. As a history junkie, I would be delighted when Lynn would share a little bit of history with me.
I, like many others, will miss seeing Lynn at the Rattler Reunion and will turn my head to take a second look when I see a purple Buick driving by to see if a certain black Labrador retriever is riding shotgun.
Of all my memories of Lynn, I will share one little-known fact. Lynn wrote a column for the newspaper for many years. In the seven years of my employment with this paper I submitted many of Lynn’s Comments from the Canyons columns for publication.
One day I noticed a misspelling. The next week there were two punctuation mistakes in the column, and in the following week there were errors of both kinds.
I was ready to blame errors in her word processing program. When I asked her, however, the answer not only assured me that her word procesor was fine , it made me laugh and curse at the same time.
“There is nothing wrong with the program,” she said. “I have been placing those errors in my column for the past 10 years to see if anyone would catch them. Somebody has to keep you all on your toes.”
Thomas Garcia is a senior writer at the Quay County Sun. He can be reached at tgarcia @qcsunonline.com