In Memory

Dr. Maunelle Martin Belles
October 29, 1919 - April 29, 2007

I was a pleasure to meet you at the reunion and if you are anything like your mother, then your strength and love will carry you through this time of the loss. My deepest sympathy. I appreciate your effort to keep the reunion alive. I will definitely help next year. God bless you and your family.

Loren Tapahe
WRHS Class of 1971

My sincere condolences. With the reunion events and this, you must be spinning. I'm glad we were all able to see you this weekend. I hope you will feel our warm thoughts your way. Your mother was a very special lady to all of us.

Lynn Crow-Cole
WRHS Class of 1966

I am ready to leave for the airport and just happened to open up my emails. I am so sorry to hear about your mom. She was a fine, fine lady! Since Mary Jo doesn't have email, I am going to call her from the airport so that she knows. Take care,

Christine Pitts-McDonald
WRHS Class of 1965

My thoughts are with you! Having just lost my father—as I so embarrassingly blubbered on Saturday night—I understand the heart ache. If it would be helpful to take some of the load off you over the coming weeks with all the work you do on this website, I would be happy to do so. Let me know if there is anything I can do from a distance! Thoughts and prayers for you and your family,

Kathy Sipe-Harvey
WRHS Class of 1975

I am so sorry to receive this news. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. It is a blessing she went quickly and quietly. You are in my prayers,

Karen Blanton-Gendron
WRHS Class of 1967

My prayers to you and your family today and always. Thank you for sharing her accomplishments, she was an extraordinary Lady and one that you know has made impressions on many many lives and not just with the former students at WRHS. She will always be a part of our hearts. Take care now and May God's guidance and comfort take you and your family through this trying time,

Dorothy Dorothy Natonabah-Saucedo & family
WRHS Class of 1967

Dear Nancy,
My deepest and sincere sympathies are sent to you - you are in my thoughts and prayers. Your mother was so fortunate to have a lovely, attentive and loving daughter in you. Please know that you will find comfort knowing that others mourn her passing but know that she is in heaven and at peace. Here is a little excerpt of a Navajo prayer which I like a lot - I refer to it whenever I am feeling sad and lonely for my mother and now my two brothers, with the thought that they are with us spiritually all the time. Your mother touched many, many Dine (Navajo) people and has made a big difference in their lives. Take care and be strong. God bless. Regards,

Ella  Natonabah-Jones
WRHS Class of 1964

It is lovely indeed, it is lovely indeed.

I, I am the sprit within the earth ...
The feet of the earth are my feet ...
The legs of the earth are my legs ...
The bodily strength of the earth is my bodily strength ...
The thoughts of the earth are my thoughts ...
The voice of the earth is my voice ...
The feather of the earth is my feather ...
All that belongs to the earth belongs to me ...
All that surrounds the earth surrounds me ...
I, I am the sacred words of the earth ...
It is lovely indeed, it is lovely indeed.

I am so very sorry. You and your family are in my prayers.

Gloria A. Hale
WRHS Class of 1968

Dear Nancy,
What a beautiful tribute that you wrote in this email to your wonderful Mother! I am so sorry for your loss - your mother lived an extraordinary life and touched so many and influenced so many of her students with her talents, skills and obvious love of teaching. I am proud to say that I was a member of the Thespian Club, and so glad that your mother gave me the opportunity to participate by its' founding. May you find comfort in the many prayers from the Window Rock High School family of friends. Your mother certainly left our world a better place.

Karen Clemens Paulsen
WRHS Class of 1970

It is through tears and sadness that I offer my deepest and sincere condolences. It was always with great respect and admiration that Sharon and I both enjoyed seeing your mom at the reunions, what a truly great lady she was. I know there are no words I can offer to help ease your pain, other than to say that God's Will has been done, and you can take comfort in knowing she is now with Him. Her "dash" meant so much to so many. I will always remember her smile, the sparkle in her eyes, and the kind words she always had to offer. If there is anything I can do for you, please don't forget we're neighbors. She will be missed by all who knew her. God Bless you,

Dave Radcliffe
WRHS Class of 1973

It is with great sadness to hear of your mother passing. Please accept my deepest condolence and sympathy. We will miss her at the reunions, but she has left some good memories. Prayers are with you.

James Manuelito
WRHS Class of 1961

I've read your notice several times already and it moved me to tears as I know it will move so many others in that way. She was a very special Lady whom I, and others, were so bless to have a part of our lives in one way or another.  She meant so much to so many from our era at WRHS and to so many others at other places she came in contact with, what a wonderful legacy. As you know, I had her every year for English in High School at WR. Each fall when we received our schedules for the upcoming year, I was so happy to see her name for my English class. I hated English in Junior High. I struggles so badly and learned very little. But in High School with your Mother it made sense to me and she always made it fun in the process. I'll never forget the time she was demonstrating the proper way to lay yourself in bed to get the good nights sleep. She needed a demonstrator, so I volunteered, got down on the floor and went into the position she wanted demonstrated to the class. When it was over, she said to me in that wonderful Arkansas accent of hers, "Larry, you get an "A" for the grading period".  When report cards came out, sure enough, it was there. I was also sitting in her class waiting to go to lunch the day President Kennedy was shot. She heard a commotion in the hall went to investigate, when she came back she announcement to the class what had happened. I'll never forget the look in her eyes that day as she told us the terrible news. She was a wonderful Lady and our number one fan of the WRScouts.Com web page. God Bless you Maunelle, I'll never forget her.

Larry Nelson
WRHS Class of 1966

I am so sorry to learn of your mom's passing. It is so difficult to lose one's parents--you feel like such an orphan afterwards. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Beth Mays-Villegas
WRHS Class of 1961

I'm sad to hear of your mother's passing. I will always remember her as one of my favorite teachers. I only had her as my English teacher in the ninth grade for the first half of that school year since my father was transferred to Chinle to work for the BIA. May God comfort you and your family for I know too that she is in a better place. Your friend,

Stephen Krause
WRHS Class of 1966

To Nancy,
I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your dear mother. May she finally rest now and I will keep you and your family in my prayers. I did not know her but sounds like she was a sweet person. May the Great Savior be with all of you and comfort each of you.

Lovie Tsosie-Barrett
WRHS Class of 1990

Sorry to hear of the news of your loss. My dad had much to say of your mother.

Marc Hillis
WRHS Class of 1989

I am sorry for your loss, my heart goes out to you and your family. Your mother sounds like a special, wonderful person; I wish I had known her.

Lisa Dixon-DiGann
WRHS Class of 1983

Wow, this is like loosing a family member. Not only was she a driving force in your lifetime, her influence as my high school teacher molded my life and helped me achieve a degree and a successful career in education. She was one of my mentors. She was a tough ol' broad, and I'll miss her deeply. If you need anything, I'm here for you,

Jim Robertson
WRHS Class of 1966

I want to send my condolences to you Nancy. Your Mother was a lovely lady and she touched many, many lives. It was so neat to see her at the reunions each year. I missed the reunion this year but thought about you all.

Dorothy Mineer-Hailey
WRHS Class of 1963

Because I want to be personal and close to what I really feel about Mrs. Martin, and say what I experienced with her and how it affected me then and now, I am writing my feelings to the wind that surrounds my soul and not trying to be publicly accepted or present myself in any pleasing format.

I met Mrs. Martin in my sophomore year when I moved to the Navajo reservation and began school at Window Rock. This would be my third high school in two years and the first public school I had ever attended. Having Chickasaw blood and also having attended Indian School in Oklahoma, I was very comfortable and familiar with my new surroundings and being with Native Americans, with whites being in the minority; an unusual mix to be sure, but one which I loved.

Maunelle Martin, hmm, I can see her standing by her classroom door, hands on her hips, as much a part of the hustling bustling crowd of people, involved in the crowd, telling her class to hurry and get in her room.

I see her searching over the heads of her class, looking for the one she was about to choose. Standing up or sitting down, a student had to recite a passage from The Congo" by Vachel Lindsay or some such new territory of expression in poetry or prose. I recall students getting called on by her to answer a question or to recite, and the teasing calls and expressions of the other classmates who were in ecstasy to see their friends put on the spot and over joyously relieved not to be the one.

I can hear her saying "Let's go. Let's GO!" at the door of the bus when we were going to some competition somewhere. Selling candy in the halls for senior prom money, I recall her pulling in kids who might have walked by and convinced them to buy.

Also, the endless endless plays....I can see her bespectacled, holding the play book in hand whispering quite out loud, the lines that were always forgotten.

On Tacky Day, when she dressed up, it was hilarious and there was no way you could walk by her without reacting. A good dresser; yeah, I recall her in classy outfits, representing her good taste and standing perfect as a leader of her class, her Thespian group, HER high school.

Hey, she was a landowner; she believed that territory called WRHS was hers and mine and ours and we were all going to scrub it and perfect it and publicly display it and ourselves because we can do it and we got the stuff to do it with, no matter how hard or what foe we will encounter. She was a coach of the heart and wanted everyone to taste success.

Mrs. Martin brought the fine arts to the frontline, loved reading with relish and spreading the news; look what's in this book, listen to what this poetry says, feel the beat and blood pumping through these lines on this book, this play, this author, this life.

Yes, we had our differences! With such a strong character of a person in the role of educator and with the opposing sometimes cantankerous soft yet brittle clay of a young person and student, there is bound to be clashes, anger, upset and boundless joy to be experienced...and she was the one to take it on and so were we (as WE were always right!)

I don't know to whom I am preaching... there is no on here at my keyboard but me and the spirit of Maunelle Martin and an invisible audience who needs to hear this and needs to remember those days and years. It's kind of like shadowboxing or standing on a soapbox pontificating, screaming in a silent whisper ( ) that your or my soul must say.

This lady cursed me with the love of fine writing and acting. I say cursed, yet it is blessed.

I thank her for giving me an unquenchable thirst for the fine arts and the fire to be champion by taking life by the horns. If you want it. I do.

Best yet, she told me there was always more. That it's damn good and it's yours.

I love you Maunelle.

Bunkie Witten,
WRHS Class of 1965

My sympathy goes to you Nancy for your loss.

Tim Worley
WRHS Class of 1967

Nancy, I am so sorry to hear of your mother's passing. She was a wonderful person and a true role model. I know how hard it is to lose a mother and I am thinking of you in this difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I wish I had been able to attend a reunion and to see both of you before this loss.

Janice Bergeson-Vassar
WRHS Class of 1965

It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the passing of your Mom. I know that no words will ever replace the grief that you are having now. Let me assure you that her life has certainly touched many lives. As an educator, I would think, that this would be the greatest compliment. Of my many years on this planet, I can think of a few teachers that have had a positive influence on my life. Your Mom must have had that effect on many peoples lives. I hope that you can count on me as a shoulder to lean on in the coming days and I'll be there for you if you need me. With my deepest regards,

Rod Hewett
WRHS Class of 1975

I was saddened to learn of your mother's death. I have many pleasant memories of her. You are in my thoughts at this time.

Jane Avey Hawkins

Know you are loved---we will all miss your mother but you are her daughter and she is going into the future through your spirit and love for all of us....tears prepare the earth for the spirit to grow... Love you,

Charlotte Goodluck
WRHS Class 1965

It is with much sadness to hear of the passing of your mom. My deepest and most sincere condolences go out to you. I am sure that the angels in heaven are rejoicing to know that God has called one of his home. Our prayers go out to you. GOD BLESS you and keep you.

Terry Sanders
WRHS Class of 1975

It is with a sad heart and grief that I want to express my deepest condolences to you and your family on the passing of your mother, Dr. Maunelle Martin Belles.

We will all miss her and she made a profound and lasting impression on me. She was a kind and caring woman who cared about the Native Americans (Dine') as exemplified by her teaching skills and enthusiasm at Window Rock High School. She always said to our English class to be the best and strive for excellence in what we do in life.

Her teachings prepare me to use deductive reasoning and analytical skills and I use these every day in my work and travels throughout the world. I am with the International Indian Treaty Council and we worked on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva, Switzerland for the past ten years.

She was a favorite teacher of mine and I am glad I was blessed with her presence in my life. A chapter in the generations has ended and we will always remember her. Again, my deepest condolences and sorrow to you and your family. May the Holy People Bless You.

Len Foster
WRHS Class of 1967

Dear Nancy,
I was so shocked to read, in my email, of your mom's passing. (I do not open my email on a daily basis.) Nancy, you had the best mom in the world, and I absolutely adored her; I will cherish the picture taken at that (2005) reunion of your mom and me. I want you to know she inspired me to do my best and when I think back now, I could have done much more. She was one of my favorite teachers at WRHS. She will be missed. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Eileen Kyselka-Scales
WRHS Class of 1965

Hi Nancy,
I hope this note finds you well. I had assumed that you would have been inundated with countless numbers expressing their feelings on your mother's passing. It is time that I add my condolences for your loss. I know what you are experiencing and I know what that loss means to you.

Your mother was one special person, as so many have stated more eloquently than I. In talking about your mother with Pete, Kim and others, it stuck me that she has left a legacy that few do. Your mother touched hundreds and thousands of lives during her life and it seems few have forgotten the impact she had on their lives. That is a legacy that neither fame nor fortune can equal. I know you will miss her and will do so for long time to come. I only hope that her legacy is some comfort to you and to your family.

Take care and be well Nancy..............
Frank LaFave
WRHS Class of 1964

I was still trying to put my words together. but unable to just yet. just know that I love you. I will send soon when I can think a little more clearly. I just know I felt like I lost my mom (she was a "mom" to me) that day you tried to type and share, I'm sure it was very difficult. I sensed a little anxiety in your behavior during the reunion; now I know why. I do want to let you know that she is in my retirement book, her photo with me-known as one of the persons who shared deep wisdom, love, and edification, a treasured loved one whom I felt was a great contribution to my success in my career life. I want to prepare another memories book and print all that was said about "mom" and photos also, to retain to wonderful memories of her and her family. I thank God for sending her and her family to Navajoland, (to us). you stay in touch, Nancy-your letters and photos are precious to our family.

Georgia Ashley
WRHS Class of 1966
and the Ashley sisters. (Betty and Shirley)


This is very difficult for me to send. I thought a great deal of your mother.

I admired her as a person, a friend and as an excellent teacher. While I was at WRHS, I saw her teach in a manner that drew out the best students had to offer. It amazed me how much response she was able to elicit from otherwise passive Navajo students.

We made several trips to the valley and Tucson together so students could participate in speaking activities.

As a friend, I was so pleased, several years ago when I entered the room, she looked up and called me by name. We had had no contact for about thirty years. I knew it was Maunelle the minute I heard her voice.

She was surely one of a kind.

Griff Ramey

Dear Nancy,
Speaking for many others, your mom was like a second mother to a great many of us. She didn't put up with any B.S., but at the same time, she showed much love, compassion, and empathy. And I'll never forget her great sense of humor. She was just a wonderful person to be around, and the world is a better place for having had her, and all she did to teach, shape, and influence young lives. I know she influenced my life, and I'd like to say made me a better person for it. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to tell her that the last time I saw her, and I'm grateful for that.

I know you're grieving, but please take some comfort in the fact that you are not alone, many of us will miss her with you. Much love, and caring, a friend always,
Bill Speicher
WRHS Class of 1965

As were many others, I was saddened to learn of the passing of your mother. I was looking forward to seeing her at the reunion as she had been such an influence on my parents those many years ago. I know she was an excellent teacher and an outstanding individual. I have heard my mother speak highly of her many times. I have always thought of the folks who made the effort to go to the reservation and teach in those days as pioneers. Perhaps that is even truer of your parents who were there in the beginning of public education on the reservation and were seen as leaders. Even though many of us have a sense of loss, I am sure what you are going through personally far exceeds that. Please know that you and your family will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Gary Aday
WRHS Class of 1984

I didn't know about your mom, and I of course extend you my heart felt sympathy.

I hope I don't sound repetitious from all the other condolences, but let me say that I knew her as a strong, vibrant, capable, as well as compassionate lady. One whom you couldn't fool, who acknowledged good progress, and one who held a person accountable.

I'm glad I got to tell her how much she impacted me at the last reunion in PHX, and I thank the Lord that I knew such teachers, those qualities help form good foundations in young people.

God Bless,
Jim Medlock
WRHS Class of 1966

Your mother taught my English classes and I will never forget how I learned about the "direct object." When I questioned her, she got up from her desk, came to me and whacked me on the arm. "what did I do?" she asked. "You hit me!" "What was the action?" "Hitting!" "Who received the action?" "Me!!!" "You are the direct object, Tom. The direct object receives the action." I never forgot that lesson.

Tom Kontz
WRHS Class of 1967