A Life Lived: Mae Hyder was always for the less privileged

Published 8:39 am Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Energizer Bunny never had anything on Mae Hyder. At the end of the day she was usually still going. “She had tons of energy and was always on the move,” said her daughter, Terry Hubbard.

But on Sept. 7, the book on Laura Mae Hyder’s life on this earth was closed.

Mae Hyder was always on the move, literally. Her husband, Howard, made the military his career, so the family was always on the move, even after he retired. “It seems as though she was never settled. They moved from Elizabethton to Johnson City, finally settling on Powder Branch. Mom was a hard worker. She enjoyed their little farm, especially growing things,” said Terry.

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Mae enjoyed cooking for her family, and among her favorite dishes to fix were beef stew, meatloaf, chicken, and a favorite of the family was her biscuits. “She enjoyed having family dinners, however, she never sit and ate with us. She was always running back and forth, serving everyone,” Terry shared.

Mae made her own jellies and preserves. She picked her own blackberries and grew her own strawberries. “Mom loved to garden and especially enjoyed sharing the vegetables she grew with others. She always raised enough to share,” her daughter said.

Mae’s last job was working in the cafeteria at Happy Valley Elementary School, where she took great pride in cooking for the teachers and students. Always an advocate for the underdog, Mae made sure students had adequate helpings of food and received extra if they were hungry.

In addition to cooking, gardening, and parenting, Mae enjoyed growing flowers, especially irises, tulips and roses. “She never seen a flower that she didn’t like,” said Terry.

Mae also enjoyed collecting antique furniture, and had several pieces of furniture that had belonged to her mother and grandmother. She also enjoyed collecting pink depression glass, antique bells, snow globes, and ornamental chickens. “She always wanted to go to estate sales and antique stores. She dragged me to a lot of those places. I know about antiques because of her. After a while you learn to like them, too,” Terry said with a chuckle

Mae was the mother of three children. In addition to Terry, she was the mother of two sons, David and Ora, and had a grandson, Josh Hubbard, and a great-granddaughter, Norah Hubbard, who was Mae’s pride and joy. “She taught us to work. We never had any other option. When you grow up on a farm, there’s always work to do,” Terry lovingly shared.

Mae was a long-time member of Powder Branch Baptist Church and had a special love for her church family.

“The thing I remember most about my mother other than her love for her family was her heart for the underdog. She wanted to lift them up. She also believed in treating everyone fairly,” said Terry.

Mae often shared a story about her first job, working a food counter at a bus station in Pensacola, Fla. That was many years ago in the 1950s when segregation was still alive in America. She was told, if the person was black to give them a plastic cup for their drink, but if it was a white person, give them a glass. What did Mae do? She gave the black person a glass, too. Her supervisor came and took the glass from the black person and broke it, and reminded Mae of the rule. She often told the story to her children and when they asked what she did after receiving the warning. Her reply: “I stood my ground.” Then what? “I got fired.”

Terry said her mother loved to share that story.

“My mother was a rebel even back in her younger days,” said Terry. “There was no one quite like her.”

Today, Mae’s work is done. There are no more stories, no more family dinners, only memories, and Mae Hyder made a lot of those for her family to keep.