Grace McNeley passes on

Sep 19th, 2013 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
GRACE MCNELEY

LIFETIME EDUCATOR. Grace McNeley, 1934-2013. Photo by Sonja Horoshko

Longtime Diné College (Tsaile, AZ) professor Grace McNeley, Naakaii Dine’é born for Kinyaa’aanii, passed away recently at her home near Cortez, Colorado. McNeley was born in Shiprock on the Navajo reservation in 1934. Raised by her grandparents and uncles, she greatly valued education and attended Brescia College, Loretto Heights College, Northern Arizona University, the University of New Mexico, and St. John’s College.

She devoted her professional career to education. She first taught at the elementary school in Tohatchi, New Mexico, just south of her childhood home in Shiprock. While teaching in Tohatchi, she met and eventually married Jim McNeley. The two relocated to Hawai’i where Jim enrolled in graduate school and Grace taught high school. In 1969, they returned to the Navajo Nation and took jobs at the newly founded Navajo Community College—then located in Many Farms, Arizona. Over the next forty years, Grace taught English and philosophy at the tribal college.

A much beloved and respected professor, Grace was gentle and always welcoming. She was also a proponent of culturally relevant education. In 2002, she penned the TCJ article, “Diné College: Sown in Red Earth, Finished in Beauty,” to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium   (http://www.tribalcollegejournal.org/archives/11812). Grace capped off her long career at Diné College by delivering the institution’s graduation commencement address in 2010. She is survived by her husband Jim and son Glen.

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