Lafara Phillips

Obituary of Lafara Phillips

Lafara Harbison Phillips was born March 27, 1924, on a farm in Prairieview, New Mexico to early-day Lea County homesteaders, Edward Lemuel Harbison and Eulalia Larissa Robbins Harbison. She died on September 16, 2019, at her home in Lovington, NM. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, September 21, 2019, at First United Methodist Church in Lovington with burial following in the Lovington Cemetery. Lafara grew up on the farm and attended grade school in Prairieview, with her teacher having four grades in one room. Having read her older sister's first grade books at home, she started school in the second grade and went through third grade the same year. So for her second year in school she was in the fourth grade. Her teacher later remarked that it was a shame that more reading and teaching material was not available in those years. She attended junior high in Lovington and high school in Lubbock, Texas. She played the violin in the high school orchestra, was in the National Honor Society, and was among ten girls chosen by the faculty as nominees for "All Westerner Girl." She graduated with high honors in 1941 from Lubbock High School. While attending Texas Tech she was a member of the Tech Orchestra, a member of Tech Chamber of Commerce, the Freshman Honor Society, and Alpha Chi, a scholastic honorary fraternity. She was a student worker in the Electrical Engineering Department, the Secretarial Studies Department and in the office of the Dean of the Division of Commerce. She graduated as the top student in that Division. Upon college graduation, Lafara taught in Seminole High School one year. She then worked in Houston in the personnel department of Humble Oil and Refining (now Exxon) and then in Midland, Texas, in the Civil Engineering Department, and later in the Employee Relations Department. She was an active member of Beta Sigma Phi. In the course of her work she met Ray Phillips, who worked for Humble in McCamey, Texas. They married in Midland in 1950, and lived in McCamey a year before he was transferred to Midland. She was a member of the Midland Symphony Orchestra in the second year of its organization. Ray and Lafara's first son, Richard Alan, was born in Midland in l954. In 1955 they moved to Albuquerque on a new job. Gary Evan was born in l956 and LaRae in 1959. In 1960 Ray was transferred to El Paso. After a year Ray left his job and the family moved to Lovington to be near her parents, each of whom lived nearly ninety-eight years. With three children in school, Lafara participated in and helped with most of their activities and was a sponsor on many out-of-town trips. During later years she traveled with the McMurry University choir, the Chanters. A special memory was when she and Ray accompanied the Chanters on a singing tour in England and Scotland. Lafara belonged to the Lea County String Ensemble, playing in the pit orchestra at the College of the Southwest, Miss New Mexico pageant, and other functions. In 2005, she was introduced to dulcimer music and to a new community of friends. She became well known at the Lone Star State Dulcimer Festival, in Glen Rose, Texas, and was usually seen sitting on the front row, smiling and eagerly absorbing the performances. Her enthusiasm and passion brought her many friendships among both performers and festival-goers. Lafara was a woman of quiet faith, living out a life of service and having the ability to show grace and forgiveness in tough situations because of her relationship with Jesus Christ. She was an active member of First United Methodist Church, serving as a youth group leader, a junior high Sunday school teacher, and as a pianist. For more than thirty years she was Membership Chairman, keeping complete records of past and present members. She helped with funeral dinners and she and Ray made hundreds of fried apricot pies for the church bazaar and for many friends. For three years she also served as pianist for First Presbyterian Church. Lafara enjoyed writing and at Christmas time she composed an annual "Christmas letter." Her tradition was to write reminiscences of her childhood on the farm and share snippets of the lives of her parents and grandparents. Preceding her in death were her parents; her husband, Ray, age 91, in 2013; a son, Richard, who died in an accident in 1971, at the age of 17; and her sister, Roburta Trexler, of Winston Salem, North Carolina, in 2019, age 97. She is survived by a son, Gary, of Prarieview, and a daughter, LaRae, with her husband David Ellison of Lovington. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews. Her family wishes to thank her friends, especially Lovington's Dixie Chicks, Wanda Alexander, Jose Perales, and John Joy for their many acts of kindness over the years. Lafara took this phrase to heart and wanted to share it: "Use your God-given gifts to serve others." --Anonymous
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Saturday
21
September

Funeral Service

10:00 am
Saturday, September 21, 2019
First United Methodist Church
407 North Main
Lovington, New Mexico, United States
Saturday
21
September

Final Resting Place

11:00 am
Saturday, September 21, 2019
Lovington Cemetery
600 West Gum
Lovington, New Mexico, United States
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