Mary Elizabeth Massingill (née Grey) was born in Beaumont, Texas, in 1933. She grew up with brothers Bob and Jim, father Ed (an accountant), and mother Bernice (a newspaper reporter). Mary was a bright student and gifted artist. She attended Lamar College (now University) where she majored in art education.
Mary and Harry B. Massingill, Jr., her husband of 62 years, married in 1954. The couple had four children—Katy, Brad, Laurie, and Dave. Harry’s 20-year Air Force career took Mary and their growing family from coast to coast and overseas, with assignments in Texas, Alabama, Nebraska, Canada, California, Washington, and Puerto Rico. When Harry retired, the family settled in Lubbock where Harry joined the South Plains Council of the Boy Scouts of America as a district executive.
In 1975, Mary and her youngest child headed to Kindergarten at Murfee Elementary. That first year, Mary served as a half-day parent volunteer with Dave’s class. When Dave moved on to 1st grade, Mary stayed in Kindergarten. She volunteered full-time for two years at Murfee and at Dupree Elementary.
Mary was hired by Lubbock Independent School District (LISD) as a teaching assistant for the 1977–78 school year, continuing her work at Murfee. She moved to Honey Elementary when the school opened in 1983. Over the years at Murfee and Honey, Mary served with six principals and supported 16 Kindergarten teachers. She also stepped in to help in other grade levels when she was needed and worked with the Kaleidoscope program at Williams Elementary for several summers.
She was honored as Honey Elementary Educator of the Year in 2000-01 with teacher Susan Hudson, half of a teaching team that supported hundreds of children during their 24-year partnership. Mary wrote of the importance of their work, saying “Learning should be a never-ending adventure. We in education have the responsibility for being the guides—the ones who point out the signposts along the way and the marvelous view ahead.” She also was recognized at the district level for her work with Honey schoolchildren.
Throughout her career, Mary shared her artistic talents—creating bulletin boards and displays, illustrating school yearbooks and district curriculum guides, and designing logos (including the original Honey Bear mascot).
During her 41-year career, Mary was a caring constant for generations of Lubbock Kindergartners, supporting literacy, teaching handwriting, helping little ones learn their letters and numbers, offering hugs and encouragement, and fueling a love for learning. Mary retired in December of 2018 as the last original Honey Bear from the inaugural staff. The Mary E. Massingill Scholarship Fund was established at her retirement to recognize the promise found in every student who graduates from high school, ready for college and career, as well as the critical importance of a caring and qualified teacher in every classroom. Scholarships are awarded to graduating high school seniors who attended Honey Elementary and education majors attending Texas Tech University.
Mary and Harry travelled extensively during school breaks, with long summer trips that started the day after school got out and ended the day before pre-planning. Together, they visited the Lower 48 and Alaska by camper, crisscrossed Canada, took a tour of the United Kingdom with friends from church, and spent time in China. They loved visiting family and friends scattered across the country. Their travels took them to scenic national and state parks, historic sites and living history events, gardens and museums. Mary loved waterfalls, beautiful vistas, and cool breezes.
After retirement, Mary stayed connected with her beloved Honey community through longtime friends who visited her regularly. First Presbyterian Church of Lubbock was her church home since moving to Lubbock in 1973, and she and Harry were active members. Mary was a gifted artist, a voracious reader, and an avid journal keeper and poet. She was a bear lover (especially Winnie the Pooh) and an owl fancier, and had developed a fondness for moose. Mary loved football, and the Dallas Cowboys and the Red Raiders were her teams, and she was becoming conversant in basketball as Texas Tech ascended in the polls. During her visits with family, she was known to throw the football with young grandkids, watch animated movies and cooking shows, and play cutthroat Scrabble, Phase 10, and Bananagrams. Mary was open to adventures and trying new and interesting foods. She enjoyed tea parties, buttery popcorn, musicals, and creative endeavors—from painting to glassblowing.
Mary lived a life of support of and service to others. She was thoughtful, kind, and caring. News of Mary’s passing was posted to the Honey Facebook page, prompting an outpouring of love and memories from friends, students, colleagues, parents, and community members. One former Honey Bear commented, “I haven’t seen Ms. Massingill since I can’t remember when, but I recognized that smile instantly!” Another former student wrote, “As an original Honey Bear myself, I can say she’s an absolute legend. You were never just another kid to her. She treated all of us with incredible kindness! She made an impact on my life early on, so this one really hurts.”
Mary was a loving and supportive mother who made time to be silly with her kids and helped fuel the same love of learning and reading in them as she did with her students. She had a gift for friendship, maintaining close relationships with dear friends of all ages over many years. Mary will be missed by those who had the good fortune to be part of her life.
Mary was predeceased by her parents Bernice and Ed Grey (Vroom), her brothers Bob and Jim Grey and half-brothers Don and John Vroom, and Harry Massingill, Jr., her husband of 62 years. She is survived by her children—Katy Manck and husband Lynn, Brad Massingill, Laura Nurse and husband Doug, and Dave Massingill and wife Misty—and their families, including 11 grandchildren (Josh, Emily, Becky, Deana, Jennifer, Dylan, Ian, Cameron, Maddie, Kennedy, and McKendrie), 11 great-grandchildren with another on the way, and seven great-great-grandchildren; and two sisters-in-law, four nephews, and two nieces.
In lieu of flowers, her family asks that you support her passion for education and honor an organization that gives care and comfort to this community by donating to the Mary E. Massingill Scholarship Fund through the Community Foundation of West Texas and to Hospice of Lubbock.
Mary E. Massingill Scholarship Fund: https://www.cfwtx.org/massingillscholarship
Hospice of Lubbock: https://give.covenanthealth.org/hospice
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 27, 2022, at 2:00p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Lubbock (3814 130th St, Lubbock, TX 79423).