Anne Grubbs had a contagious smile.
“The one thing about Anne that we all try to emulate is that every single day she had a smile on her face. Her smile would light up a room,” said Matt Idlett, president of Kiwanis Club of Bowling Green. “She was always giving of her time to everyone. She was always there for anyone who needed her – for the children, for the community.”
The Bowling Green woman, 63, died Friday at Hospice House of Southern Kentucky.
“So many events are not going to be the same without her,” said Felicia Bland, a Kiwanis board member.
Grubbs battled breast cancer about 11 years ago. It went into remission for five years before coming back five years ago and metastasizing to her lung.
“Chemotherapy is given in a communal room. I look around and sometimes I feel a lot luckier because I feel so much better and I have a lot more support than many others do,” she said in a March interview with the Daily News. “People wonder if I ask, ‘Why me?’ but I don’t really say that.
“We deal with it one day at a time and have great church support. I was pretty sick … and we couldn’t have gotten through it without our church,” she said. “They fed us and we had a good friend from Virginia who spent Christmas with us, and that meant a lot.”
Grubbs grew up in Virginia as an only child. She and her husband, Mike, married while both in their 30s. She taught school for 20 years and worked at Bowling Green-Warren County Community Education for 17 years before retiring in October 2012.
Debi Wade Jordan, executive director of Community Education, knew Grubbs before they started working together. They sang in the Western Kentucky University-Bowling Green Community Choir. Jordan has worked at Community Education for 14 years, and she said she and Grubbs had known each other for about 20 years.
“We sat next to each other in the alto section, and altos are always troublemakers, so I knew what I was getting into when I came to work at Community Education,” she said.
The duo spent a lot of time together outside the office.
“A real treat that not many people get to experience is to work with someone who was your friend,” she said. “It was great being able to work with a close friend. I’ll miss her.”
Grubbs didn’t have children, but she had no shortage of love from others.
“God didn’t give her one or two or three children. Instead, he gave her to all children,” Jordan said. “It’s an irreparable loss to this community. I can’t think of anyone who could fill her shoes. That just means the rest of us will have to try harder.”
Grubbs joined Kiwanis in 2001. She and Idlett had been friends for about seven years.
“We got close as we were both on the board. I met her through Kiwanis,” he said. “She gave her time and energy for the benefit of others. She’s the kind of person who makes Bowling Green such a great place to be.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations at board meetings,” he said. “Her sense of humor was great.”
He saw that sense of humor once at a Halloween party.
“I saw a picture of Anne and her husband on Facebook in Halloween costumes,” he said of the party, which he attended. “That was one of the first times I got to know her and her husband.”
Idlett’s best memories of Grubbs were at community events such as Stand for Children and Thunderfest.
“Every time you were around her, she put other people first,” he said.
Debbie Hays met Grubbs through Kids on the Block when Hays was the director and Grubbs was with Community Education. They met again through Kiwanis and had been friends for “quite a few years.” Grubbs was president of Kiwanis in 2012-13.
“You never ever have to worry about what you say or do with Anne. She’s the most selfless and caring person I’ve ever known in my life,” she said. “I never knew anyone like her and I don’t think I’ll ever know anyone else like her.”
At every Kids on the Block and Community Education event, Grubbs was always the first one there and worked tirelessly at every event, Hays said.
“She’s always there for everyone. Her kindness, her selflessness, her love for children – oh, how she loved children so much. Her love for children was unbounded,” she said. “I’ve never known anyone like her. There’s going to be a lot missing in our community now that Anne has gone.
“There’s a lot of people in the community who love her very much,” Hays added. “I just hope and pray we can all give Mike the support he needs right now.”
Grubbs went to meetings until she became too sick, Hays said.
“It wasn’t long ago she was at a meeting. It probably hasn’t been a month since we’ve seen her,” she said.
Even when Grubbs wasn’t feeling well, she still wanted to work, Hays said.
“After Anne got sick and she was home and couldn’t go to the events, she wanted to work. She would make calls from her home and ask people for donations,” she said. “Whatever we needed, she would call and get it for us.”
Bland met Grubbs at an event, but she doesn’t remember which one.
“I can’t think of a time when I didn’t know Anne. She would come up with the craziest ideas. She had that ability to make you laugh,” she said. “We were always joined at the hip. She called me her sister from another mother and I was the one who got a tan.”
While Bland will miss Grubbs, she feels “at peace.” She was able to visit Grubbs before she died.
“I know she’s not suffering. It was refreshing to touch her hand and let her know I loved her,” she said. “I think that’s the thing that makes it easier. I’m just going to hold on to that. Her physical body is not here, but she’ll always be here.
“I wouldn’t have done half the stuff I’ve done if it hadn’t been for Anne,” Bland said. “I know my life is better for having known her.”
Harvey, Alyssa (2014, August). Grubbs leaves legacy in Bowling Green. BGDailyNews.com. Retrieved from http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/grubbs-leaves-legacy-in-bowling-green/article_11e44b69-144c-53f0-b59f-e88159e57ef4.html