That wasn't the case with Barb Grady. In her final days, battling ovarian cancer, Barb, who coached volleyball at Dover Area High School for nearly three decades, received thousands of messages via Twitter, showing support in her fight. Many of those messages came from former students and players -- women who expressed how inspirational and caring their former coach and teacher was.
"It was fantastic how many people she had a positive influence on," her brother, Mike Grady, said Sunday evening, "It was pretty amazing and quite overwhelming how she was able to influence so many people in a positive way."
The hashtag #prayersforgrady took off and trended nationally last week, meaning that the campaign for love and support spread far beyond the borders of Barb's school district. Barb got to see a lot of the messages as she fought her cancer at a suburban Philadelphia hospice.
"They really meant a lot to her," Mike said.
Sunday afternoon, Barb lost her battle. She was 56.
She had just retired from teaching last year, having taught gym at Dover for 34 years. She was the Eagles head coach or co-coach for 29 years, fighting, always, her brother said, for equality in women's sports.
She was in the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, but she didn't do what she did for accolades. She did it, her brother said, because she cared for all of her students.
She always took time to talk to the kids considered to be "outcasts" and "the kids nobody talked to," her brother said. One of her former students said, "You always felt like you mattered to her."
"She changed a lot of lives," Mike said.
More than anything, Mike said, "She loved her life. She loved what she did. She loved the people she was around."
At the end, he said, Barb had no regrets.
"She did exactly what she wanted to do with her life," Mike said. "She did what she loved doing."
Being a teacher and a coach, he said, was "her passion."
She had no immediate plans for her retirement, her brother said. She shared a condo in Ormond Beach, Fla., and planned to spend the winters there. While there, she also planned to visit a former student, Sammie Strausbaugh, a freshman on the volleyball team at Jacksonville University.
"It was all about family and friends and the kids she taught," her brother said. "That was her life."
The family plans to contact her school on Tuesday to make arrangements for a memorial.
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