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Melba Ince Fast, Murphy, Niemela ’46

Melba Ince (Fast) Murphy Niemela ’46, February 19, 2011, in Salem, Oregon. Melba grew up near Antelope, Oregon, spending her early years with her grandparents on their farm. She attended high school in Portland and earned a BA from Reed in psychology. “The joy of learning instilled at Reed continues to enrich my life,” she wrote nearly 50 years after graduating. After earning a certificate from the Oregon College of Education in 1959, she taught science in the Salem-Keizer School District. Melba specialized in the geology of the Bend area and the marine biology of the Oregon coast. We learned from former student Harold Hickok that her teaching could be likened to “a warm, gentle tornado.” She had absolute confidence in her students and their intellectual capacity. “She pushed the mind farther and farther. Everything was so exciting; you couldn't get enough.” Melba had a passion for reading and for discussing the works of the ancient Greeks. She also reveled in trips to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. “Anyone who had the great pleasure of driving with her to a performance there received five hours of a pre-play lecture on every conceivable aspect of the play,” Harold told us. Melba also liked to hike, camp, fish, and ski, and to bring family members together in her home. Survivors include two sons, grandsons, granddaughters, and great grandsons, and a brother. One son predeceased her.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2011

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