Jackson County

She was a fighter. But now this Ocean Springs teacher is ‘adding extra sparkles’ in heaven.

Courtney Hubbard was a teacher at Pecan Park Elementary in Ocean Springs when this photograph was taken in 2011. Hubbard defeated breast cancer in 2010, but cancer returned. She died Jan. 23.
Courtney Hubbard was a teacher at Pecan Park Elementary in Ocean Springs when this photograph was taken in 2011. Hubbard defeated breast cancer in 2010, but cancer returned. She died Jan. 23. amccoy@sunherald.com file

Courtney Hubbard loved children. As a fourth- and second-grade and kindergarten teacher, she understood the opportunity and responsibility a child’s earliest influences can have. She especially enjoyed teaching kindergarten, her husband Mark said, “because they’re such sponges. She was always saying that.”

She was also enjoying a second opportunity at life after she had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. She had completed her final treatment in July 2010. But two years later, in March 2013, she learned that a spot had been detected on her neck.

“It was breast cancer again,” Mark Hubbard said. “It had metastacized, and then it went into her liver and bones.”

In October 2011, the Sun Herald ran a story on Courtney and her original battle with cancer at age 31. In the story, she said, “As soon as I was diagnosed, I took a year off from school. I was triple positive, so my job was to fight for my life.”

Courtney Jalanavich Hubbard had beaten up cancer once before, but it returned, this time more aggressively. She returned to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she received her first treatments, then went to The Regional Cancer Center in Pascagoula.

She died, at age 40, in the early morning of Jan. 23.

Services will be held Thursday, Jan. 25, in the Ocean Springs High School Gym, with visitation from 5:30-7 p.m. and the celebration of life following, at 7. Riemann Family Funeral Services is in charge of services.

The gym, popularly known as The Hub, is named for Mark Hubbard’s father, Billy G. Hubbard. It was Courtney’s choice for her services.

“She said our life together began in the gym, and she wanted it to end in the gym,” her husband said.

The two met through a mutual friend. “It was her best friend, and I was friends with her best friend’s dad,” Mark Hubbard said, adding that he is six years older. Now athletic director at Ocean Springs High School, he was a basketball coach at the time. “I’d say it was love at first sight. You know what you know.”

They were married a year later, and eventually twins Brock and Maura Kaye, now 15, and Brayson, now 12, completed the family. Throughout their mother’s illness, the children “have been my strength,” their father said. “We never kept anything from them. They have known what might happen.”

The children also helped their mother, he said. “Just their being there was medicine for her.”

Family and friends were Courtney’s greatest enjoyment, and an annual trip was the family’s highlight each year.

“Every summer, we’d go to Destin for a week,” Mark said. “Same condo, every year. She loved Christmas, Thanksgiving — all the holidays. But it was that trip every year that she really looked forward to. We all did.”

He describes his wife as “just a God-fearing, sweet, selfless, sparkling angel.”

Ah, yes. Sparkles. Courtney Hubbard loved sparkles and glitter. Her obituary states: “Cancer did not win. Courtney is at peace and perfectly whole. She is singing, laughing, and adding extra sparkles of glitter in Heaven.”

And she had a favorite saying, Mark said: “‘Leave a little sparkle wherever you go.’”

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1

Former Ocean Springs Hospital administrator Dwight Rimes wants women in Mississippi to be told by their doctors if they have dense breasts. His wife is now battling Stage IV breast cancer after getting annual screenings as required.

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