Mullinville- Sibyl Andrea McKinley, 96, passed away December 6, 2013 at Hill Top House, Bucklin, Kansas. She was born October 25, 1917 north of Mullinville, Kansas on the family farm. Delivered by her father, she was the third child and second daughter of John W. and Virga Mae Pridy McKinley. She was raised and lived on the family farm all her life, except for years in college and the navy and until she moved to her house in Greensburg for a few years before moving to the Kansas Soldier’s Home at Fort Dodge, Kansas in May of 2004. In March 2007, Sibyl moved to Hill Top House, Bucklin. Going to the one-room school, Forest Grove, north of Mullinville, she graduated from Mullinville Rural High School in 1936. In the summer she helped her father survey fields using a surveyor’s wheel. She also earned her Kansas Department of Agriculture license to test cream brought into the Community Cream Station at Mullinville. School was never easy for Sibyl. Had she been in elementary school years later, it would probably have been determined that she had dyslexia. However, it did not stop her from earning two college degrees. Later when she announced the countywide spelling contests, she worked many hours on making sure that she pronounced the words correctly. She started to Fort Hays State Teachers College in the fall of 1936, going for three years at that time. Living in Custer hall, she was hired as a helper at the Phi Delta Kappa house where she helped cook and serve meals and, of course, wash the dishes. Receiving a lifetime teacher’s certificate, she taught for two years at Salem, a one room rural school north of Mullinville. After she returned to Fort Hays State Teachers College, the news came that Pearl Harbor had been attacked and World War II been declared. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree, she taught English and Science at Sun City High School. While researching information on the branches of armed forces for her students, she found herself in Kansas City on July 5, 1943, enlisting in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service more commonly called the WAVES. She entered active service in August 1943 serving her boot camp at Hunter College in Bronx, New York. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt visited one hot afternoon while she was stationed there. In August 1943, Sibyl was escorted to Sampson Training Station to enter the Hospital Corps School. Her first duty was at BUSSANDA at Cleveland, Ohio, She went to San Diego Naval Base Hospital where she taught in the Hospital Corps School until it closed. She was transferred to the Marine Base near San Diego, where she helped revamp the Medical Records Department. In the spring of 1945, she was shipped to the Great Lakes where she helped set up a new Hospital Corps School at Moffit Field. She was honorably discharged from the WAVES as a Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class at Memphis, Tennessee in the fall of 1945. Sibyl was very proud of her military service and enjoyed meeting and visiting with other veterans at the Fort Hays Oktoberfest Celebration each fall. With the help of the GI Bill of Rights in 1948, she entered Kansas University, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Following graduation from KU, she worked in Kansas City. After her father’s death, in 1951, she returned to the farm, which she dearly loved, allowing her mother to live at the farm for the rest of her life. Sibyl had joined the United Brethren Church of Mullinville in November 1939 remaining a member of the United Methodist Church in Mullinville. In 1959, Sibyl became the first Kindergarten teacher at Mullinville. She much loved teaching the children in kindergarten and was continually going to workshops to learn something new for her “kids”. In 1971, she enjoyed traveling to many European Countries while accompanied by her niece, Jackie Slimmer Langholz. She also spent the summer of 1976 attending the Open Classroom in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. She enjoyed the sharing by children. One of her favorite stories was telling how during one sharing period, one of the young students shared they were going to have a new baby at their house. That brought another child to share they too were having a new baby. Sibyl was aware these families were expecting babies, but when one of the other students raised his hand to share, Sibyl thought ‘this is something I had not heard’, so she told the little student to share. The little boy excitedly said, “Miss McKinley, Miss McKinley, we are going to have apple pie for supper.” Sibyl retired in 1982 after 22 years in that position with a total of 29 years teaching.
With her mother, she helped the continuation of the family exhibiting the County Collective Booth at the Kansas Free Fair in Topeka and at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. The last year at the Kansas State Fair for the McKinley family was 1967 after 47 straight years of exhibiting.
Sibyl enjoyed her nieces and nephews coming to the farm. Very creative, she was always making something that they could play with or enjoy while they were visiting the farm. During her tine at Kansas University, she completed several works of art. These pieces of art were given to her nieces and nephews. Having never married, she made her nieces and nephews her family. Sibyl also helped and supported many young people in the community. She thoroughly liked working outside and doing other things. She did not like housekeeping.
She became a member of the Order of Easter Star, the Narcissus Chapter at Mullinville on April 18, 1938, receiving her 50 year pin in 1988. She held active membership and served as President in many professional organizations including Delta Kappa Gamma, Business and Professional Women, American Association of Retired Persons, National Education Association, State Teacher’s Association, and Southwest Kansas Teacher’s Association. She was a member of the Fort Hays Alumni Association and the Alumni Association of the University of Kansas. The Business and Professional Women of Greensburg recognized her as the Women of the Year in 1984.
Still continuing to live on the family farm, she purchased a house near the City Park and water tower in Greensburg, also making it her home. She shared this home on many occasions. After her retirement she worked hard to establish the Kiowa County Senior Citizens Center in Greensburg. Still very active and independent into her 80’s, she enjoyed her RV, and then her little, bright red car, neither of which she gave up easily.
On October 25, 2006, Sibyl was honored by the Kansas Soldiers’ Home at Fort Dodge, not only for her 89th birthday but for her service to others of: obtaining large American flags for use at Mullinville, writing information to accompany photographs of Admirals Nimitz and Halsey for those buildings at Kansas Soldier’s Home at Fort Dodge named in their honor, serving as the WAVE, and the lives of the many kindergarten children that she taught.
She is survived by one brother, Myron McKinley and his wife, Elaine of Tulsa, Oklahoma; one sister, Virginia Slimmer of Plainville, Kansas; nephews and spouses, Phil and Arlene Hayse, Tom and LeaAnne Hayse, Joel and Patricia Hayse, Rodney and Kathy Dutt, Gregory and Sandi Dutt, Stanley and Bridgette Dutt, John W. McKinley and Bruce and Jennifer Slimmer; nieces and spouses, Pat and Michael Pfeifer, Jane and Clark Sweet, Jo Bennett, Rebecca and Cosimo Lucchese, Pamela and Ted Bell, Beth and Ron Kershner, Ruth Hayse, Debbie McMahan, Diannah McKinley and Don Carrico, Jackie and Don Langholz and Kathy Slimmer; several great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews. Three brothers, Bill, Harold and John, Jr. and her sisters, Alice and Carrel preceded her in death.
Funeral services and celebration of Sibyl’s life will be Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm. at the Mullinville United Methodist Church with Brad Zimmerman officiating. Friends may visit from 5 – 7 pm Wednesday at Fleener Funeral Home with refreshments at the Kiowa County Senior Center at 7:00, and from 10 – 11:30 am Thursday at the church. Burial will follow at McKinley Cemetery north of Mullinville. Memorials are suggested to the Kiowa County Senior Citizens Center in care of Fleener Funeral Home, 514 S. Main Street, Greensburg, Kansas 67054.