Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 03 October 2013 00:00
Mineola’s oldest living resident, Bea Hubbard, died on Sept. 18. She was 106. Survived only by her nephew David Waters and his wife, Suzanne, Hubbard was born and raised in Coxsackie, N.Y., before moving to Mineola in 1932.
Hubbard taught business at Mineola High School until she retired in 1967, rising to the head of the business department at 60 years old. After graduating from Russel Sage College, she taught in Ripley, N.Y. before attaining her master’s degree from Columbia University.
David feels his aunt’s life, while defined by the age to most, was full because of her involvement in charitable and volunteer work. She was one of the founding members of the recently defunct Faith Evangelical Church in Garden City and worked many hours with the Salvation Army, the Interfaith Nutrition Network in Hempstead, the American Association of University Women and the AARP, among other organizations.
“As I said in my eulogy, I think the key, other than genes, is being involved in many different social, cultural activities as well as charitable work,” he said. “That’s what kept her alive. She was fiercely independent.”
David and Suzanne, who live in Rockville, MD., also felt Hubbard’s faith in the church kept her going. Her resolve led her to continue routine tasks, including driving a car, until age 95.
“She was very active,” Suzanne said. “She loved Mineola.”
That doesn’t discount Hubbard’s tenure at the high school. She made a lasting impression on her students and while many kept in touch with her until her passing, one in particular visited her regularly.
Former village board trustee John DaVanzo, 91, brought her flowers on many occasions throughout the years. DaVanzo arranged for Hubbard to be the Grand Marshal of the village’s centennial parade in 2006, to coincide with her birthday, which nearly mirrors the village’s.
“We were very close,” DaVanzo said. “Ms. Hubbard came to all our sports games. She was also a student advisor and we all had a great deal of love for her.”
Mayor Scott Strauss attended the funeral services for Hubbard. He visited Hubbard last year on her birthday.
“Miss Hubbard was an incredible lady who loved life and all those around her,” Strauss said. “She played a role in the shaping of countless lives, not just of her students but her friends as well.”
Hubbard was never short of friends. It was evident leading up to her 100th birthday.
“This was a woman that had so many friends,” Suzanne said. “For her 100th birthday, she gave me two lists to gather up.”
David’s bond with his aunt could be considered stronger than most traditional relationships. Hubbard had no children and Waters had no siblings. His parents, Kathryn and Bernard, passed away in August 2002 and January 2003, respectively.
“I guess you could say that I was the child that she never had,” he said. “I took it upon myself that when my parents died 11 years ago, Bea had no one so I thought it was up to me to watch over her for care as I did for my parents.”
He arranged for aides for Hubbard after she fell in her home at 100 and 104 years old. David visited every two months. “I called her every Sunday,” he said.
Even though Hubbard had two full-time aides, her teaching abilities still thrived, says Suzanne.
“She had a health aide who was studying to be a nurse, and she’d help her study,” she said. “[Bea], like a teacher, gave her the confidence to continue. The [aide] was supposed to be taking care of [Hubbard], but in many ways, it was reciprocal.”
Memorial donations can be made to The Salvation Army 194 Front Street, Hempstead, NY 11550 and The INN at 211 Fulton Avenue, Hempstead, NY 11550.