Melba's News

Melba H. Stewart Obituary

Melba H. Stewart, born May 15, 1909 in Dallas, Texas, lived to the astonishing age of 106. On December 13, 2015, she passed peacefully at home surrounded by loving family members into the presence of her savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

When the full force of Hurricane Dolly struck McAllen on July 24, 2008, Stewart got up in the middle of the night with no power in the house to check on her granddaughter, Laurin Huber. She fell and broke her neck. Her physician said many people with the same injury would suffer paralysis or die. Not Stewart. After three months of wearing an immobilizing, steel halo that screwed into her skull, she graduated to a neck brace. After doing physical therapy, she was once again enjoying full neck mobility by her 100th birthday.

This was not the first time Stewart checked on her granddaughter. In 1980, Huber nearly died in a car wreck that left her immobilized and helpless. Stewart took Huber into her home and oversaw her care, which has required 24/7 nursing ever since. For more than 27 years, Stewart personally cooked and supervised the preparation of Huber’s food and ground it into a puree.

There’s another Huber who has benefited from Stewart’s sacrificial love. Melba Huber has been teaching dance at Melba’s Dance School in McAllen since 1957. Melba’s dancing feet might not have made it to year one without Stewart’s dancing fingers. Stewart played the piano for her daughter’s dance classes as payment for the class fees.

Back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, dancing teachers hired pianists to play for classes. Stewart could read music when playing for ballet classes and improvise when playing for tap classes. Pianists who could do both were rare. Sometimes when a dance instructor was teaching a tap step, Stewart would get up from the piano and do the step. Stewart said she always wanted to dance. Her musical fingers made it possible for thousands to dance at Melba’s School of Dance.

Even though Stewart played the piano for a 10-piece dance band, her gifted fingers weren’t limited to the keyboard. Stewart borrowed her daughter’s seventh-grade typing book, rented a typewriter for three dollars a month and taught herself to type at around 100 words per minute. Her typing skills helped land her a job with the Strauss Frank company (a national automotive parts company), where she served as office manager for many years.

After Melba Huber’s husband, Jim Huber, died in 1971, Stewart retired from Strauss Frank so that she could assist her daughter with her family and in growing her dance business. She served as office manager and designed and sewed costumes for dance recitals.

Stewart is survived by her daughter, Melba Huber, two grandsons, Carey and Keith Kinsolving, granddaughter, Laurin Huber and three great granddaughters, Lindsay, Emily and Kylie Kinsolving.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to a cause close to Stewart’s heart: the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust ( Please send donations to We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust, 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. 

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