The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Betty Williamson
Columnist 

Pictures worth about 1,000 phone calls

 

September 23, 2018

Courtesy photos: Sandy Siebelts

Marge Walker Muncy and Elbert Muncy.

I set out in late July collecting information to write about the 50th anniversary of Elbert Muncy's death. It never occurred to me how hard it would be to find a photograph of the beloved Portales pharmacist who was killed on Aug. 18, 1968, at the old B and J Drug on the courthouse square.

Images of his wife, Marge — also a well-known Portales figure who spent years teaching first graders at L.L. Brown Elementary and guiding a Sunday School class at First Presbyterian Church — were equally elusive.

Over the course of several weeks, I interviewed about 30 people and read every scrap of information I could find on the incident, which remains a vivid memory to many in eastern New Mexico.

One of my first questions to each of those people was whether they had or knew of any photos of the Muncys.

Portales Public Library Director Denise Burnett — who could have a second career as forensic investigator — turned up one grainy image of pharmacist Muncy in a group photo that ran in a Texas newspaper in the early 1960s.

That was it.

When the first half of the story published, I heard from a slew of other people who had stories to tell from their connections to the Muncys, but still, alas, no photos.

Two days before the second half was printed, I was fortunate to make contact with Phil Taulbee, a retired physician in Las Cruces, and his sister, Sandy Siebelts, a retired educator who now lives in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

They lived in Portales from the mid-1940s through the mid-1950s, Siebelts told me, with their parents, Calloway and Dorothy Taulbee. Calloway Taulbee was the principal of Portales High School, and Dorothy Taulbee was Marge Muncy's older sister.

Phil Taulbee had no photos of his aunt and uncle, but said his younger sister might.

Sandy Siebelts initially drew a blank on a photo as well, but she jumped on the bandwagon for this project and started hunting.

The morning after the second half of the story was published, she emailed me with good news: "Just found three pictures of Muncy!"

Then, two days later, "Bingo!! Can't believe I just found a beautiful large picture of Marge."

Siebelts told me that Marge Muncy was Marge Walker when she and her son, Scott, came to live with the Taulbee family in Portales so that Marge, a single mother, could attend Eastern New Mexico University to become a teacher.

Marge worked part time at a local drug store while she was in school, and fell in love with the pharmacist, Elbert Muncy.

Siebelts said the pair dated for many years but didn't marry until 1958. She thinks they waited because Marge wanted time for her son to graduate from high school, and Muncy was caring for his elderly mother.

She said her aunt Marge was "a lot of fun," and "Muncy was wonderful to me."

"When I'd go to the drugstore, he would let me make myself a chocolate ice cream soda or whatever else I wanted to create," she said.

Sandy Siebelts shared my delight in the discovery of the long-unseen photos.

"I really didn't think I had them," she said. "I needed to clean out this drawer, and they were down in the bottom.

"Muncy and Marge were devoted to each other," Siebelts remembered. "They were a very special, handsome couple."

Betty Williamson wishes she had known the Muncys. Reach her at: [email protected]

 

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