Virginia Faye Phipps Monaghan passed away peacefully in her sleep on April 11, 2011, surrounded by her family and dear friends, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was born January 2, 1934, in Bald Knob, Arkansas, to parents Horace Lonzo Phipps and Fay Fern Fields, and the family moved to Searcy, Arkansas shortly thereafter. After graduating from Searcy High School in 1951, she became the first member of her family to attend college. Virginia was offered scholarships in both geology and chemistry, and attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville on a geology scholarship. She was one of only two female geology students at the University and, because she was female, was denied entrance to the honors geology fraternity on campus. She did join Mortar Board, the national honor society for senior women, before graduating with honors in 1955. After graduation, she moved to the big city of Houston and worked as a petroleum geologist for Humble Oil. Over the next four years, Humble sent her back and forth from Houston to Midland, TX, where she eventually made her home in 1962. After her first marriage ended in divorce, and her second in a tragic car accident after only four months, she finally found the love of her life, Robert Lee Monaghan, an independent oilman, in Midland, TX. Virginia and Robert were married on January 2, 1964, in Midland. Shortly thereafter, she was relieved of her job at Humble for violating a company policy against marrying an independent oil operator. She raised their two sons while working with her husband at their independent oil company, Cal-Mon Oil Co. During her husband Robert's long illness, she oversaw the operation of the company and watched it flourish. After his death in 1999, she moved to Austin almost full time to be in closer proximity to her surviving family. Virginia was a longtime member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Midland, where she taught Bethel Bible courses. She had a long interest in analytical psychology, dream analysis, and spirituality. She loved to travel, visiting Greece, Italy, France, England, Scotland, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Alaska. She was an avid reader who also loved film, playing bridge, and rocks of all shapes and sizes. She was a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and for many years travelled with a rock hammer. Virginia was preceded in death by her parents and her loving husband, Robert. She is survived by her two children, Patrick Kevin Monaghan, and Robert Lee Monaghan, Jr., and one grandson. Memorial donations may be made to Hospice Austin or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.
As published in the Austin American-Statesman on May 31, 2011