Ellen McVay with awards received over the years.

Ellen McVay, the iconic teacher who influenced education for 25 years at the Houston School District, has died. She was 104.

Miss McVay had been in declining health in recent weeks at Houston House, where she was a resident the last several years.

On the occasion of her 100th birthday from her 40-plus year home on Bryan Street she still read five papers daily and enjoyed a good political discussion. From 1945 – 1970 she instilled an interest in politics and history to thousands of students at the Houston School District. She retired at age 65 and engaged herself in bettering the community, where she had an active interest in the county library system and formation of several institutions that remain: the county health department and senior citizens center. She also lent her time to a local committee that participated in the state’s community betterment contest and also had an attraction to the county’s genealogy society.

She had her favorite historical figures. Earlier this year, in a profile that appeared in the Herald, she said Thomas Jefferson stood as her favorite president and then laughed, “I didn’t know him.” And what wisdom could she offer at age 104? “Treat people kindly,” she offered from her Houston House room.

Born Esther Ellen McVay in northern Missouri, she decided in the fifth grade her occupation would be a teacher. In 1930, she earned a degree from then Northeast State Missouri Teachers College at Kirksville.

“I’ve done a lot of things, but teaching has been my life,” she said in 2005. “I was quite content to be a teacher.”

Services under the direction of Evans Funeral Home are 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at Evans Funeral Home. Visitation is 10 a.m. until service time. Memorials are suggested to the Texas County Library.

Offer you remembrances of Miss McVay at the Herald’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Houston-MO/Houston-Herald/54320110944?ref=ts

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