Aurelia "Lela" McKinley

November 5, 1937 ~ May 14, 2020 (age 82)


Aurelia “Lela” McKinley
Mom, Gama, Wela, and Aunt Lela passed away peacefully in her home in Alamogordo, NM on May 14, 2020 at the age of 82 years old. Born Aurelia Manuz in Morenci, AZ on November 5, 1937 to Aurelio and Ysabel Manuz.

Lela, as she was known by many, later relocated to Roswell, New Mexico with her family.  It was in Roswell where she met and married Richard McKinley in 1954, who precedes her in death.  She went on to receive a nursing degree at St. Mary’s Hospital in Roswell, NM in the 1950’s and worked there for many years and at the Chaves County Health Department.  She later moved to Safford, AZ and continued her work as a nurse at the local hospital.  She had a natural ability for creativity with crafts that led her to work with her cousins Harold and Tonia Potter in their shop making and selling silver and turquoise jewelry, which she was able to pass on to her son Jack. Her love of New Mexico led her to Alamogordo in the late 70’s where she worked the rest of her 30 plus years as a nurse at Betty Dare Good Samaritan Center.  She worked her way up to become the Director of Nursing and later retired in the late 80’s.  She spent most of her free time making and selling or giving away her “treasures,” as she liked to call them, of handmade crafts.  She was a very talented artist and used her surroundings of the desert to create many beautiful works of art and paintings which won her countless awards.

After retiring, Lela donated her time to delivering meals to those in need through the meals on wheels program.  She also made and delivered blankets to the children at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso’s oncology wing.  On a vacation to Memphis she handmade and delivered some Desert Angels made of devil's claws (a plant found in the desert) to St. Judes Children’s Hospital. She also donated to St. Judes research fund to help in their fight to cure childhood cancer.

Lela loved and adored spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  She loved taking them on adventures and collecting “treasures” with them.

Lela was preceded in death by her husband Richard McKinley, her father Aurelio Manuz, her mother Ysabel Manuz, her sisters Lupe Lucero, Carmen Kimbrell and Lucy Castillo, and her brothers Roger Manuz and Manuelito Garcia.

Lela is survived by her son Jack McKinley and his wife Elia, their children Liz McKinley, John McKinley and Gary McKinley.  Her Daughter Carla Gonzales and her husband Manuel, and two great grandchildren Myles McKinley and Amethyst Rose McKinley. Also, her countless cousins and nieces and nephews.

Services will be held at a later date.

The McKinley family has entrusted their loved one to the care of Scenic Chapel to direct services.  To sign the online register book, please visit

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