Anne Grubbs is one of those gracious Southern ladies who politely refuses to tell you her age.
But she will, with a laugh, say she’s “over 50.”
And she’ll say she’s one of those people, like her husband, who has “the ‘I Hope You Dance’ attitude.”
“It’s like, don’t sit back and watch life,” said Grubbs, who for years has been enrichment coordinator for Community Education. “Get out and participate. Try it.”
Grubbs’ attitude was formed as a girl growing up in small Martinsville, Va., where Thanksgivings were spent preparing turkey sandwiches that would be carried to tailgate sessions before football games between Virginia Tech – her mom’s alma mater – and Virginia Military Institute.
“I was the child of a single mom,” Grubbs said of Margaret Blane, who through the years worked as a home demonstration agent, electric company employee, welfare worker and retail employee.
Christmases in bad weather found Grubbs and her mother pulling presents to neighbors on a sled through the snow.
“I grew up in the late ’50s and ’60s,” she said, “when your neighbors were your family.”
It was a good feeling for a girl who didn’t have siblings.
“The lady next door I called my grandmother,” Grubbs said. “A man down the street – the family doctor – gave me away when I got married. His family was like my surrogate family.”
Grubbs attended Martinsville public schools.
In high school, she knew she wanted to be a teacher and, in addition to being in The Thespian Society and school choir, she was a member of Future Teachers of America.
“That’s a generational thing,” she said of being a teacher. “You taught.”
After graduating from Martinsville High School, Grubbs attended Roanoke College, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree “and did teaching on the side.”
She did her student teaching in Roanoke County before getting her first elementary school teaching job in Patrick County, where her grandparents lived.
Grubbs was thrilled later to get a job teaching in Martinsville.
“My kindergarten teacher taught down the hall, and it was hard to call her Betsy,” Grubbs said, laughing.
She went on to teach in Virginia for 14 years, during which she met her husband, Mike Grubbs, who was working for the city of Martinsville in human resources.
“We were in a community theater group” there in the 1985, Anne Grubbs said.
At the time, she was part of a musical revue show and Mike Grubbs was working on the back-stage crew.
When the couple married in 1986, Anne Grubbs said it was “the most exciting thing I ever tried.”
The next year, the couple moved to Bowling Green, where Mike Grubbs worked in human resources for the city before becoming director of Citizen Information and Assistance.
Here, Anne Grubbs began working as a teacher.
During the next six years, she held jobs at Alvaton, Cumberland Trace, Jones-Jaggers and Natcher elementary schools, Mike Grubbs said.
Then, after a total of 20 years of teaching, Anne Grubbs decided she needed a change.
“I started looking around and finally ended up at Community Education,” after also teaching kindergarten at Academy for Little People, she said.
Now, she said, she loves working for the organization that organizes Stand for Children Day, after school programs, fun adult education classes and more.
“I’m still in education,” she said, “and I get to see kids in the after school program.”
Grubbs also likes knowing some of her former kindergarten students are teachers.
She’s also glad she had the chance to move to Bowling Green.
“I’d never moved before,” she said, “and it was an adventure for me. … I kind of came into my own after moving from a small town where everybody knew everything I did.”
For many years here, Grubbs often painted items that she sold in consignment shops and at art shows.
“Anything that wasn’t moving she would paint,” Mike Grubbs said.
Also, she embroidered pieces to sell.
While Anne Grubbs doesn’t create and sell the artwork as much as she used to, her husband said it’s been “interesting watching her blossom in the past few years.
“She taught kindergarten for years and kind of made a change and got out into the adult world,” he said. “It’s been interesting to see her use her talents in different ways, and she knows more people in Bowling Green than I do.”
Anne Grubbs is a true people person.
“I think everyone thinks the world of her,” Mike Grubbs said.
But Anne Grubbs has faced some tough times through the years.
Several years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine breast exam.
“The first biopsy was negative,” Anne Grubbs said. “And (the doctor) said ‘I don’t think that’s right. Come back again.’ ”
At first, Anne Grubbs said, she was scared.
“But it’s not as hard to be sick” as it is to have someone you love be sick, she said, “because you just do it. But that other person, you feel worse for them than you do for yourself.”
Mike Grubbs said his wife was “remarkable” throughout her battle, which included chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and complications, including infection.
“Of course, people internalize things and I’m sure she had feelings she didn’t express, but she handled it very bravely,” he said. “It was a long ordeal because the surgeries didn’t take.”
Romanza Johnson, a well-known local volunteer who is in the Bowling Green Woman’s Club with Anne Grubbs, also said Anne Grubbs “was remarkable” as she faced cancer.
“She kept her spirits up and kept going and was keeping active,” Johnson said of the woman she described as dependable, well-organized and creative. “I’m sure many days she didn’t really feel good.”
Anne Grubbs’ friends tried to help her stay active during the time.
“I think with her array of friends, that helped,” Johnson said, “so that her friends were good to be with her and to take her places and involve her while she was sick.”
Anne Grubbs said support from friends, The Medical Center and Graves-Gilbert Clinic staffs, her church family at State Street Methodist Church, her husband and now late mom, who moved her to live with her and her husband, significantly contributed to her getting through the tough times.
Now, she’s been cancer free for four years.
“When I go for my exam yearly” to make sure everything’s OK, “it’s a little troublesome, Anne Grubbs said, “but I try not to think about it.”
Instead, she loves to stay busy with her work and being in Kiwanis Club, her church choir, the Eloise B. Houchens Center board and more.
She will even stay busy after she retires some day. She and Mike Grubbs can’t wait to travel more.
“She’s interested in the Mayan ruins in Mexico, so I found a tour the other day and we’re saving up to go,” Mike Grubbs said.
But the couple is “really kind of home people,” he added.
Anne Grubbs said what makes her happiest is being with her husband.
“I owe who I am today to him allowing me to be who I am,” said the gregarious former teacher, laughing. “He’s real quiet. I scare him.”
Debi Wade Jordan, executive director of Community Education, said Anne Grubbs’ outgoing spirit is a bonus at work.
“We call her the little Romanza Johnson” because of her volunteer spirit and willingness to get things done,” Jordan said. “Romanza is everywhere, does everything. I don’t think she ever stops. Anne is the same way. … She is just our go-to person when it comes to fundraising and because of all her connections in the community she’s the ideal person to do that.”
Carmichael, Alicia (2008, January). Grubbs brings enthusiasm, energy to work. Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/grubbs-brings-enthusiasm-energy-to-work/article_10f4b35e-c1b5-5375-bf0a-87faf1c17dc5.html