Bill Kirby Jr.: A Love of Children, And Children Loved Her Back

There are those blessed with a unique gift in life.
         
Sue Canaday Hubbard was one.
          “She just had a real compassion and understanding of children,” the Rev. Sandy Saunders said, and it was that compassion that Sanders reminded us of when family members and friends gathered on Feb. 27, 2021at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church to celebrate and remember Sue Canaday Hubbard.
          The preacher reminded us of something else, too.
          “Children loved her,” Sanders would say.
        Mrs. Hubbard was a teacher for Cumberland County Schools in the 1970s before finding her way to Snyder Memorial Baptist on Westmont Drive as a teacher of preschool daycare children.
          “She worked part-time at the daycare,” said Sanders, who is a former associate pastor at the church. “I started the after-school program and hired her in 1985.”
          Sue Canaday Hubbard was a natural, he said, when it came to children.
           “She could sense when a child needed to talk,” Sanders said. “She would put her arm around a child.”
          Sue Canaday Hubbard could offer assurance to any child.
          “And that’s how good she was with children,” Saunders said.
           For Sue Canaday Hubbard, Sanders said, it wasn’t just a job.
           “She was a good Christian lady and loved the Lord,” he said. “She approached it as a ministry and not a job. And she was very in tune with families and their needs.”
          She taught between 75 to 80 students in the winter, Sanders said, and about 200 each summer, and ultimately thousands until she retired in 2012. Among her favorite times with children was planning and joining other staff members and parents in chaperoning youngsters for field trips to the Outer Banks, Jockey’s Ridge, Carowinds and Busch Gardens.
           “I would help her get ready for some of those trips,” James “Bunk” Canaday said about his sister. “When those kids went on camping trips, they were jumping and pumped up. None of them were ever homesick.”
          “On the Road Again by Willie Nelson was the familiar song she would play for the youngsters in the buses on their way out of town and to their planned destinations. They were youngsters in good care, because Sue Canaday Hubbard was there.
          After retirement, she spent time working with her brother at his Old Heritage Restoration business downtown, and helping care for her sister-in-law, Connie Canaday, in her battle with cancer.
          “She spent about all of her time with Connie,” Sanders said.
          Connie Canaday died at age 60 on June 7, 2013, leaving behind a husband of 34 years and two daughters.
          In their grief, a sister and an aunt was there.
          She always was there to help them along their way, just as she was for those thousands of children in the daycare and after-school and summer programs at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church.
           “She was always there for my girls after Connie died for whatever they needed,” Bunk Canady said. “And the kids at Snyder church loved her, too.”
          Sue Canaday Hubbard died Feb. 17, 2021, after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
          She was 77.
          “My dad’s sister and our beloved Aunt Sue passed away yesterday after a hard-fought battle with COVID,” niece Jessica Canaday wrote. “In addition to being the matriarch of our family, a second mother to my sister Mary Katherine and me, and grandmother to my nephew, James, as well as her own grandchildren, she has touched the lives of thousands of children as a preschool teacher and director of the Snyder after-school and summer programs for decades.
          “What an unbelievable soul she was.
           “She was truly the most selfless person I have ever known and her impact on the lives of others cannot be quantified,” Jessica Canaday wrote. “We will never forget the beautiful article you wrote about Mom and, if you are still writing, we could not think of a better way to honor our Sue.”
          There were familiar hymns at Sue Canaday Hubbard’s service in February, and a song of another kind, too.
          “On the road again,” Willie Nelson’s voice sounded through the sanctuary. “Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway. We’re the best of friends, insisting that the world keep turning our way. And our way … Is on the road again.  just can’t wait to get on the road again. The life I love is makin’ music with my friends, And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”      
         
From all of us here at CityView Magazine, Jessica, we are honored to remember your beloved Aunt Sue and the young lives Sue Canaday Hubbard touched with her love and compassion along her own life’s way.

 Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at cityviewnc.com, billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961