Marilyn Autrey Masse, lifelong educator and Roswell resident for more than 48 years, died Dec. 26 in Friona, Texas, of natural causes. She was 90 years old. Ms. Masse is survived by her son Coach Bryan Masse of Friona, Texas, her daughter Ret. Col. Pamela Masse Funk of Reston, Va., her step-daughter Sherril A. McKinnon and step-son Frank McKinnon, as well as her grandchildren, Bryant Masse of Austin, Texas, David Kovarik, Michael Kovarik and Katie Funk of Reston, Va. and her brother Ralph Autrey of Ocean Springs, Miss. She was preceded in death by her brothers, Leroy Autrey of Texarkana, Ark. and Harry Autrey of Hot Springs, Ark., her former husbands, Charles N. Masse and Joseph S. McKinnon and her dear longtime friend and traveling companion Henry Garrett.
Ms. Masse was born Nov. 28, 1922, in Miller County, near Garland, Ark., the daughter of Ernest Richard and Blanch Scholars Autrey. She was salutatorian of her Garland, Arkansas High School class and attended Southern Arkansas University on scholarship and then transferred to Henderson State Teacher’s College where she was elected football queen in 1943 and graduated in 1944 with a major in English. She also received her Master of Science in education from Henderson University in 1965 and did post-graduate work at Eastern New Mexico University.
After graduating college, Ms. Masse originally taught high school in Dyess, Ark., for one year before moving to northern Virginia. Ms. Masse worked in the Arlington and Alexandria school system, where she was hired by the famed educator TC Williams. After five years she moved back to Arkansas and taught school at North Heights Elementary/Vera Kilpatrick Elementary in Texarkana, before moving to Roswell in 1964.
During her long educational career at Roswell, she taught at Valley View, Monterrey, Sierra, Del Norte, Edgewood and El Capitan, providing inspiration to countless children throughout the years. She served as the female counselor on numerous summer pathfinder trips teaching children the value of teamwork, cooperation and the democratic process while exploring our national treasures. After retirement, Ms. Masse was a regular supporter of the Roswell High School volleyball program and attended almost all home games for the team.
Ms. Masse was a life-long Methodist and member of the first Methodist Church of Roswell. She was active in the Democratic Party and was named a Colonel, Aide to Camp on the staff of New Mexico Gov. Bruce King. She was a member of the National Education Association, the American Association of University Women, Delta Kappa Gamma educational sorority and a volunteer at the Community Kitchen, and Roswell Museum and Southwest Historical Society. Ms. Masse was noted for her love of educational pursuits including reading and traveling. She was very proud that the high premium she placed on education was transferred to her children who jointly posses seven higher degrees and to her grandchildren who have all graduated or are currently attending college.
A memorial service will be conducted at the First United Methodist Church in Roswell on Saturday, Jan.19, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers please send donations to Ms. Masse’s favorite charities: The United Methodist Church Roswell Cowboy Bell Scholarship Fund and/or Ski Apache Disabled Skiers Program (SADSP), P.O. Box 2138, Ruidoso, N.M., 88355.