Thelma McCoy was born Nov. 3, 1924, to Alfred and Jennie Johnson in College Place, Wash. She joined two older brothers, Arden and Melvin.
In 1926, the family moved to a farm in Minatare, Neb., where she grew up. Her father taught the rural school and his three children. When she was 15 and attending Scottsbluff High School, she and her brother received a first rating in the National Music Competition, she on the piano and Melvin on the violin. During her senior year, the family moved to College Place again, and she graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1942.
Thelma graduated in 1946 from Walla Walla College (now Walla Walla University) with a Bachelor of Arts in piano performance. She then joined their faculty teaching a large piano class that included WWII veterans. She married a veteran, Richard McCoym in 1947. She taught several years at the college.
After Richard graduated from WWC, he and Thelma taught in Oregon at Laurelwood Academy; at Lynwood Academy in Los Angeles, Calif.; at Gem State Academy in Caldwell, Idaho; and in New York. Richard graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York City. Thelma also attended the Juilliard School of Music while in New York City.
The last move was to Sequim and Port Angeles, Wash. Thelma always taught a large class of piano students everywhere they lived. Richard taught band, orchestra and chorus at Stevens Junior High School, and he and Thelma played in Port Angeles Symphony for more than 25 years, she on the cello and Richard on the French Horn.
After Richard retired, he team-taught piano with Thelma. They taught on the Olympic Peninsula for 50 years. She retired at 86 years of age. Richard passed away in 2011. They have two daughters, Nancy Nedderman and Colette Sharer; a granddaughter, Aletha Natiuk; and 3 great-grandsons, Trevor, Conner and Kristian.
Thelma was awarded membership in the Washington State Music Teachers Hall of Fame in 2010 and received the Clallam County Service Award in 2013.
She plays the church organ and plays piano dinner music for the Christian Women’s Connection. She holds an office in Monday Musicale, an organization she established in 1968 for scholarships to students going to college to study music.