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Remembering Sue Stivers

Hannah Peck shares her memories of a Columbia icon

Sue Stivers, 1986-2022
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This community started the month of August with a huge loss. Sue Stivers’ passing last Monday marked the end of an era, capping off a life that touched and uplifted countless others over her 86 years.

Stivers has been an Adair County institution, well known and universally respected, for decades. Her accolades and accomplishments are vast and diverse, and her obituary highlights a few. 

Professionally, Stivers enjoyed a decorated 43-year career as a University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Sciences. She held the position in Cumberland County from 1957 to 1966, then in Adair County from 1966 to 2000 and was routinely recognized with awards for her high-achieving performance. 

After retiring as an extension agent, Stivers did not remain idle. She served as Executive Director for the Columbia-Adair Chamber of Commerce, and was director of both the Adair County Tourism Commission and the Adair County Economic Development Authority. For the past 30 years, she has served on the Lindsey Wilson College Board of Trustees. 

Lindsey awarded Stivers an honorary doctorate, and UK inducted her into its hall of fame. 

For 24 years, Stivers served as Executive Director of the Miss Lake Cumberland Scholarship Pageant, a program she founded. She was the first-ever recipient of the Jaycees’ “Outstanding Woman of the Year” and was once named “Outstanding Volunteer” by the Columbia-Adair Chamber of Commerce.

Stivers was also a longtime stalwart at Columbia Baptist Church, teaching Sunday School classes ranging from high school students to retired women. 

Few know Stivers’ accomplishments better than her great-niece, Hannah Peck, who delivered her eulogy at last Friday’s service. Peck was kind enough to share some of her prepared remarks with The County Line, and a slightly abbreviated version is printed below:

There is so much that can be said about my Aunt Sue. There are so many things that made her a truly extraordinary person, and if I were to list them all we would be here for hours. Instead, I will do my best to reflect on how she touched the lives of those around her through the attributes that truly made her “Sue”—her generosity, encouraging heart, service, and leadership. 

As a young woman, my Aunt Sue left her small, farm community of Webbs Crossroads to pursue a college education. This step was out of the norm for the time, especially for a woman, but set her on a career path where she would impact the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people in her professional and personal life. 

Aunt Sue loved, and I cannot stress this enough, loved her career as an Extension Agent. For over 40 years, she poured into her community, implementing educational programming for her clients and she took great pride in developing others into leaders, citizens, parents, seamstresses, cooks, gardeners, and more. But beyond the educational aspect, Sue lived for the relationships she built. Aunt Sue beamed with pride when talking about the women in her Homemakers Association—both in Burkesville and Columbia. And if you didn’t know, Aunt Sue was the first-ever Extension Agent in Cumberland County, and if you talked to her long enough, she was sure to mention that fact! With over 300 Homemakers in her programs, Sue strived to remember the names of every single one. Beyond names, she remembered details on family, jobs, vacations taken, special interests—you name it! 

You could often find one of these anecdotes included in one of her infamous cards. You see, Aunt Sue was an avid card writer, and this characteristic lasted her entire life. There are at this very moment, hundreds of blank cards in her house, one for every occasion. She used her cards to encourage others and sent them daily. It was because of this attention to detail that she was often referred to as “Mama Sue” by her homemakers, a title that always made her smile. Aunt Sue didn’t do any of this because it was her job, she did this because she truly cared for those around her. She loved all people in a way that was truly unique.


After Aunt Sue retired for approximately five minutes, she served her community through various roles within the Columbia-Adair County Chamber of Commerce and other non-profit organizations. 

A close second to her love for Extension was her love for her community. Aunt Sue devoted the latter part of her life to local tourism, economic development, and more. When not at a Columbia board meeting, Aunt Sue could be found serving on whatever other board had a vacant seat across the state—this woman lived for a board meeting! 

As a young girl, I remember watching in awe as my independent, successful Aunt Sue traveled the state (and beyond) to meeting after meeting. Her expertise was used by so many industries, and she was always happy to help. 

Did you know the University of Kentucky has an official plaid that was designed by the Family and Consumer Science Department that had to be sent to Scotland for analysis to make sure it was truly unique? Yeah, me neither, but Aunt Sue served on that committee too! 


Likely one of her most honored positions was serving on the Board of Trustees at Lindsey Wilson College. Aunt Sue loved her Blue Raiders and always said she bled UK and LWC Blue! 

I have so many fond memories of cheering along beside her at basketball games. After each game she would go up to every player and tell them how well they played and that she was so proud of them—and she was. She would beam as they gave her a big, sweaty hug. I can see it all now and it still makes me smile. 

Our mutual love for LWC was sort of “our thing.” As a student, she watched every one of my theatre performances and would go on and on about how we were as good as Broadway. 

A little bit of an aside: Aunt Sue actually sparked my love of theatre, taking me to see shows at Horse Cave Theatre. Robert Brock, who would later become my college director, starred in many of the performances and my 7-year-old self was convinced he was Uncle Joey from Full House. My Aunt Sue was such an affirmer, and when I asked her if it was Uncle Joey, she said, “I think you might be right.” Imagine my surprise when Uncle Joey showed up 13 years later to teach my Acting II class! Aunt Sue always helped keep the magic alive.

She was so proud when I started working at LWC. But sometimes I wasn’t sure who she was prouder of—me or LWC? Like many others, I was a recipient of many of Aunt Sue’s handwritten cards and mine always read: “Hannah, I am so proud of you…and LWC!” 


Aunt Sue was so generous. She gave her time, she gave her talents, and she also gave her treasure. She was so proud to have scholarship funds at both the University of Kentucky and Lindsey Wilson College. Education had been a catalyst in her life and she believed that it had the power to change people’s lives. It was very important to her to offer that same opportunity to others. 

I remember many Christmases where Aunt Sue forewent gifts with the lone request that family contribute to her endowment. My brother is currently receiving her scholarship at LWC and she was so proud and excited that he received her scholarship. However, long before her official scholarship, Aunt Sue helped others attend college. My grandmother, and my Aunt Sue’s prized baby sister, was actually the first ever “Sue Stivers Scholarship Recipient” as she helped fund her sister’s way through college. 

Anyone who has spent any time with Sue knows how generous she is and she has been this way since she was little. One of my grandmother’s favorite stories to tell was the time their aunt had visited from out of town. She brought each of my grandmother and Aunt Sue’s siblings a piece of bubble gum, a big treat at the time. While walking and talking, my grandmother, only about 4 at the time, gum flies out of her mouth and lands in the mud. She begins to cry, but her big sister Sue, ever her protector, steps in and takes her lone piece of gum and splits it in half to share. This is the perfect portrayal of my Aunt Sue. 


If you were feeling down, Aunt Sue was the person you needed to see, because she was the ultimate cheerleader. She was the epitome of an “encourager.” I think that is why when reminiscing with my family, we all have such unique, but also similar memories of our time with Aunt Sue. 

She had the uncanny ability to make you feel as though you were the most important person in the room. Aunt Sue was the type of person who would stay up all night before the Adair County Fair where she had a million responsibilities, just to help my mom as a little girl make biscuits to enter into the competition. 

She was the type of person that you could ride all the way to Myrtle Beach with and never run out of things to talk about, while laughing the whole way like she did with my Aunt Melissa for many summers. And don’t get me started on an Aunt Sue Sleepover, which all her nieces and nephews benefited from. These nights were a thing of beauty! Cokes, Cheetos, pizza—with stuffed crust—a movie of your choice, and then a trip to Walmart! And Aunt Sue would be right there with you joining in on the fun, acting like she was having the time of her life. She gave everyone attention—your interests became her interests. 

What a lasting impression Sue Stivers left on so many. She had so much love to give and she gave it freely to all she encountered. A regular prayer of mine is that I can show the love of Christ to those around me. I can think of no better example of someone who showed the love of Christ than my Aunt Sue. 

Even in some of the most seemingly mundane situations, I can hear things she said to me almost 30 years ago. In 1994, Aunt Sue and I were assembling my brand-new Easy Bake Oven from our most recent Walmart run. She was letting my clumsy 5-year-old fingers maneuver the screws on the back panel when she said, “Hannah, you are so good at using tools. You have always been so good with putting things together.” And to this day, I think I am good at using tools and putting things together because my Aunt Sue told me so at 5 years old. 

Aunt Sue understood that words have power, and I am so grateful that she took the time to call, write, and say the things that were on her heart. How grateful I am that we all were encouraged by Sue Stivers and more importantly, that her words will live on in our hearts until we meet her again. 

This post is brought to you as part of Adair Drug Tuesday.

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Wes Feese is one of this company's owners and founders. He has previously worked as an editor, news reporter, sportswriter, photographer, and freelance contributor for newspapers across central Kentucky. He grew up in the Egypt community of Adair County and is a graduate of Adair County High School and Lindsey Wilson College.