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Long-time Magoffin art teacher passes

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Article adapted from the eulogy read at Connie’s funeral by her husband, Don.

A long-time Magoffin County Schools educator passed away on Saturday.

Connie Owens Cecil, a retired art teacher, florist and artist, passed away on March 2 at the age of 72, leaving behind husband, former Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Don Cecil, and a daughter, Beth Cecil.

Life for Connie began on Lick Creek in Magoffin County, born on September 3, 1946, to Cammie and Willa Ernestine Bailey Owens. Though she was an only child when she was younger, she grew up around many of her Owens cousins, whom she loved deeply, and she kept in contact with them all of her life.  

Connie attended Salyersville Grade School and by the time she entered Salyersville High School her parents had moved the family into town. During 10th grade, she flirted with a boy from the Royalton area, whose name was Don Cecil, and the two began dating the next year. After high school she enrolled at Morehead State and Don at Eastern, and after two years of college the two wed on June 5, 1966. 

She transferred to Eastern to be with Don and the two lived in married student housing. Their friend from Salyersvillle, Bobby Ray Prater, would come to visit, and after he began dating Paulette, the two girls clicked and became forever friends and sisters, though Connie would say Paulette was the older sister because she was taller. 

Connie graduated from Eastern with an art major and English minor and was hired to teach at Salyersville High School, teaching both English and art classes for a few years, then all art classes. 

Although she was a petite lady, when she pointed that finger with the perfectly-manicured long nail, big boys feared her wrath and students always respected her. She loved teaching and knew how to instill self-esteem in the children who needed that special attention. Connie not only provided psychological boosts to students, but financial assistance if there was a need. For several years, she also was the cheerleading sponsor. 

Connie and Don had one daughter, Beth, who was her greatest joy, and much to her delight, inherited her artistic talent. Connie also served as a second mother figure to her sister, Mary Jane McDaniel, who was born when Connie was in college. As Mary Jane grew up, Connie shifted into the role as big sister, and when Mary Jane and her husband, Bryan, had a son, Connie and Don served as grandparents to Jay.

On top of being a teacher and an artist, Connie also loved gardening and raising flowers. After teaching 27 years, she retired and bought the Salyersville Flower Shop and began a new career as a florist. Her business became a gathering place for family and friends who stopped in to chat, seek her advice (for she was a straight-shooter and one knew not to ask if you didn’t’ want her direct opinion), or sometimes to just cry on her shoulder. 

To sum up her life, Connie was a daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, college graduate, teacher, artist, florist, animal lover and above all else, she was a Christian and was a member of the First Baptist Church. 

As stated in the eulogy, “oh, what a beautiful place those artist’s eyes of Connie are now seeing.”
 

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