Sue Frances Phillips

Sue Frances Phillips 1943 – 2022 ORR’S ISLAND – Sue Frances Phillips of Orr’s Island died peacefully on June 19, 2022, at the age of 79, following a short battle with cancer. She was in her home with her family by her side. Sue was born in Dallas, Texas, on April 20, 1943. She was the daughter of the late William Hicks Phillips and Virginia Carolyn Henderson Phillips. She grew up in the South – primarily in Florida – with her parents and two sisters. Sue received her high school diploma from HB Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Florida State University in Tallahassee. Sue loved learning and was extremely proud of only getting “one bad grade” in her life (in Spanish)! After graduating from college, she “escaped the heat and humidity” to work as a waitress for a summer in Boothbay, where she fell in love with a young teacher, Dana Roderick Coty. Sue and Dana married in 1965 and moved to Island Falls where Dana taught history. In 1969, after moving to Lisbon Falls, Sue had her son, Rod, followed in 1971, by her daughter, Hannah. Sue and her family moved to “Stony Brook Farm” in Winthrop, where she raised animals, tapped trees for maple syrup and tended a large garden. The daughter of educators, Sue got her first taste of being in a classroom while volunteering at Winthrop Elementary School. In 1981, Sue and Dana divorced, and Sue moved to North Carolina with her two children. Surrounded by a “village” of friends, Sue proudly raised her children as a single mother, instilling the values of education, independence and friendship in both Rod and Hannah. But most importantly to her, she taught them the value of unconditional love and acceptance. Upon moving to North Carolina, Sue started her 30-year teaching career during which she dedicated herself to teaching literacy to children, a skill she knew to be foundational to a successful life. She worked as a language arts teacher at Githens Junior High School in Durham, N.C., for nearly 20 years. After receiving her master’s degree in Library Science from North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., she worked for a brief time as a media specialist before moving back to Maine in 2001 to be close to her daughter’s family. In Maine, Sue worked as a literacy specialist at Durham Elementary School in Durham, until she retired in 2011. As a teacher, friend, sister, mother and grandmother, it was important to Sue that she made everyone feel seen, valued, and respected. She held all her students to a high, but achievable, standard, regardless of who they were and she would go above and beyond to help them achieve their potential. Sue was known for asking direct questions of those around her. Upon meeting new people, she needed to know the spelling and pronunciation of their names before she would quickly move on to more personal lines of questioning. While this might feel uncomfortable to some, those close to her knew it wasn’t just a quirk, it was a sort of initiation. If you survived, you would forever be one of her people. Regardless, you never forgot the encounter and usually learned a bit more about yourself as well as a new grammar rule or two. In her retirement, Sue became the tutor, paper editor and personal confidant to her grandchildren as well as her children’s biggest champion. She also welcomed Sweet Sunny Sunshine, a chihuahua mix, into her life. She loved to take Sunny on walks, spoil him with treats and cuddle up with him to binge Downton Abbey and fudgesicles. Sue also had a mission to feed the birds. While the goldfinch was her favorite bird, she loved to feed them all, even the squirrels. She did draw the line with the raccoons, however, and would fend off the nighttime invaders with a holler and broom! But mostly, Sue spent her retirement loving her friends, two children, eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. These relationships meant the world to her, and she made sure that each person knew it and felt it. Sue and the love she shared will be greatly missed by each and every one of them. Sue is survived by her older sister, Lucy Kathryn Harvard of Thomasville, Ga., and her late husband Lucius Bryant Harvard Jr. and their three children; her younger sister, Mary Carolyn Rubelsky of Woodstock, Ga., and her husband William Paul Rubelsky and their three children; her son, Dana Roderick Coty Jr. of Winston-Salem, N.C., and his four children, Heath William Coty, Hayden Michael Coty, Holden Roderick Coty and Julia Suzanne Coty; and her daughter, Hannah Coty Beattie of Orr’s Island, and her husband William Bartlett Beattie, and their four children, Emelia Bartlett Beattie, Chloe Sue Beattie, Ella Raine Beattie and Nina Xiao Chen Beattie; and her one great-granddaughter, Louisa Bartlett Perez Beattie. Sue is also survived by her many lifelong friends, both near and far. A memorial service will be held for family and friends on Monday, June 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Orr’s-Bailey Yacht Club, Orr’s Island.

Guest Book