Carolyn Walker McNeil, 87, of Pecos, Texas, went to be with her Lord on April 22, 2021, having passed in her home in Pecos, with all four of her children present. Born Carolyn Jewell Walker in Mobeetie, Texas, on May 25, 1933 to Jewell and Lowery Walker, Carolyn graduated from Hereford High School in 1951, and attended Texas State College for Women (TSCW, now Texas Woman’s University) in Denton.
While at TSCW, Carolyn had an opportunity to attend seminary at Scarritt College to become a missionary, but her father said the work was too dangerous. She called this missed opportunity her “one career regret.” Carolyn then graduated from TSCW in 1955 with a B.S. in Vocational Home Economics.
Carolyn’s children were surprised recently to find that she was a member of the TSCW Aquatics team. They had only ever known her to not be able to swim. She explained that she stood in the corner of the pool in her swimsuit and ran the electric record player for the swimmers.
Carolyn met Glenn McNeil in Pecos the summer of 1954. They were married June 24, 1955 in Pecos, following her graduation. Glenn formed an electrical contracting partnership with friend and colleague Charles Medanich and called it C&G Electric. Glenn later became sole proprietor, and eventually sold C&G to pursue prospects out of state. He later returned to Pecos and founded Glenn McNeil Electric. At his death in 1984, Glenn McNeil Electric was the area’s premier oilfield electrical contractor.
Carolyn began teaching home economics at Pecos High School in 1955, but in 1958 took 7 years off to have her family with the love of her life, Glenn. Then in 1965, she returned to the high school campus to teach science, and under her direction the Pecos High School Science Association was formed and experienced several boon years. Many of her students won awards at the Permian Basin Regional Science Fair, and three students attended Science International at Cleveland, OH, San Diego, CA and New Orleans, LA.
Carolyn returned to teaching home economics in 1974. She was the advisor to the Young Homemakers of America and Future Homemakers of America. Many of those homemakers and students served as state officers, and Carolyn herself served on the Vocational Home Economics Teachers Association State Advisory Board.
In 1977, Carolyn received her Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Sul Ross State University, and in 1979, became Guidance Counselor at Pecos High School, serving there until 1996. During her tenure as counselor, she purchased, at her own expense, the first computer in the District, and used it to schedule four-year plans and classes and track grades, class rank and GPAs. Carolyn was especially gifted at finding scholarships for students that suited their eligibility, aptitude and interests.
Eligible to retire in 1996, she chose instead to continue teaching part-time in Child Development, Nutrition and Food Science, and Child Care. Retiring in 2017, she had taught all of the sciences, World History, U.S. History, all of the homemaking courses, was a counselor for 20 years, taught in the DAEP and ISS programs, and was also librarian at Crockett Junior High School. In a 2012 interview with the Pecos Enterprise in observance of her receiving a 50-year service award from the school district, Carolyn said, “As long as I feel I can help any student, I feel God wants me here.”
Carolyn was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a women’s educational sorority, and served in many positions, turning down the presidency when elected due to family and educational obligations. She also served in various offices of the Texas State Teachers Association during the 1970’s.
At her 2017 retirement, Carolyn was given an award from the school district for an unprecedented 55 years of service. She was proud to have served under several gifted administrators, namely, Ray Whitley, Frank Kelly, Dalton Moseley, Gerald Grove, Joe Shoemaker, Jim Gunn, Alicia Mitchell, Sam Martinez and Omar Salgado.
Always having regretted not attending seminary, Carolyn considered the youth of Pecos her true mission, in and out of school. During the 1970’s, she operated a Christian coffeehouse and worship center, The King’s Inn, which hosted lively praise and worship crowds.
Carolyn taught prep courses for and administered the GED at the high school and in the local prison. She believed everyone deserved their best chance, and “it’s easier to find a vocation with an education”.
In 2012, Carolyn became a member of the Martha Jefferson Randolph Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Sadler, TX, later transferred her membership to the Comanche Springs Chapter in Ft. Stockton, and at her death, was a member-at-large of the National Society DAR.
Carolyn was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Pecos since 1951. She enjoyed the J.O.Y. bible study class for many years. In the 1970’s she crafted and decorated the Fellowship Hall and Sanctuary Christmas trees with “Chrismon” ornaments signifying Christ’s life, crucifixion, and resurrection. In recent years, she attended the First Baptist Church in Pecos, where she helped serve the Wednesday night meal, and focused much of her efforts on instructing the “youngers” in their etiquette and table manners. As the saying goes, “once a teacher, always a teacher.”
Carolyn had many hobbies, including collecting John Wayne and Gone With the Wind memorabilia and miniature lighthouses, woodworking, sewing, ceramics and gardening. Carolyn was an avid reader, especially of science fiction, and loved poetry all of her life.
A line from one of Carolyn’s favorite poems, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar, reads:
“Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I head out to sea.”
Carolyn’s educational passions were only second to her passion for family. In her early days in Pecos, her parents, all four siblings, their spouses and many offspring all lived in Pecos. She spoke fondly and often of the many family gatherings. In later years, Carolyn was on the road every summer the very day school let out, in a station wagon with her four children and often three or four cousins for the long drive to her parents’ ranch in the Missouri Ozarks, where her parents had moved upon leaving Pecos. At the Walker ranch in the Ozarks, city kids learned the country life. While there every summer with sometimes as many as nineteen cousins, her children learned to bale hay, ride and break horses, milk cows, hunt, fish in the creek, “build ramparts against imaginary enemies”, shuck corn, cook in a dutch oven in the ground, bake, can fresh vegetables, make biscuits, fry chicken and many other vital skills needed to create a younger generation that was self-sufficient and well rounded. Carolyn would stay at the ranch all the way up until just a few days before teachers had to be back to start the new school year. Then again at Christmas, she would return to the family ranch because she wanted her children to have real snow at Christmas.
Carolyn’s life exemplified always learning and achieving, even if you sometimes fail. As an example, Carolyn played the saxophone while in Hereford, and in fact loved it so much that she neglected her studies and had to repeat the sixth grade! Later, she loved being a member of the “hostile herd” high school band.
Carolyn is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, her two sisters, Wanda Pegram and Charlene Harper, her two brothers, Wayne Walker and Norman Walker, a nephew, Wesley Pegram, and a granddaughter, Camille Rose McNeil.
Carolyn is survived by all three of her sons, Walter McNeil of Kerrville, Ben McNeil and wife Elizabeth of Seabrook, and Rusty McNeil and wife Michelle of Baytown, as well as her daughter, Leslie Knox of Pecos; grandsons, Parks McNeil and Bain McNeil of Kerrville, James McNeil and wife Kelly of El Dorado Hills, CA, Jacob McNeil of League City, Christopher Knox of Scottsdale, AZ, Jordan Knox and wife Gloria of Phoenix, AZ, granddaughters Jennifer McNeil Bardy and husband Cedric Bardy of Adelaide, Australia, Jae Knox Burkett and husband Jaret Burkett of Cedar Park, Danielle McNeil of Houston, and Ryan Hemphill of Spring. Great-granddaughters include: Ember Burkett of Cedar Park, Piper McNeil, McKenna McNeil and Macey Robinson of El Dorado Hills, CA, and Lola Bardy of Adelaide, Australia, as well as numerous nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews, all by whom she was affectionately known as “Aunt Mac”.
A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 12 at the First Baptist Church of Pecos, with Dr. Kevin Mitchell co-officiating with Rev. Jim Goodwin, Pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Pecos. Carolyn’s remains will be privately committed at Mount Evergreen Cemetery alongside her husband and her parents. Arrangements are by Pecos Funeral Home.
Memorials may be given to The West of the Pecos Museum and the Pecos Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame.
The McNeil family would like to thank Drs. Steven Serrano and Louis McIntire, Home Instead Senior Care, Midland, American Home Health & Hospice, Pecos, the administrative and nursing staff of the Reeves County Hospital, First United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church, many friends, and the entire community of Pecos for your care, prayer and helping hands during our mother’s and our time our time of need.