Family, friends remember Dr. Carolyn Sundy and the legacy she leaves behind

Published: Sep. 27, 2020 at 1:12 PM EDT
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CUMBERLAND, Ky. (WYMT) - On Sunday Dr. Vic Adams, President of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC), announced the death of Dr. Carolyn Sundy in a Facebook post.

“Carolyn owned the room when she came in. There’s no question about that. She was always smiling always happy," said Dr. Adams.

Dr. Sundy was SKCTC’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. She died in the early morning hours Sunday.

Born and raised in Harlan County, Dr. Sundy dedicated her life to Southeastern Kentucky.

“Her passion was most definitely education trying to make sure children of the mountains of our area got their education no matter who they are no matter what background they came from," said Dr. Sundy’s son, Terry Sundy.

She was born a coal miners daughter and overcame many barriers.

“Her mother didn’t finish high school, her father didn’t finish high school. She was the first in the family to go to college," said Terry.

Dr. Sundy had her first son, Terry when she was just a teenager but she still finished high school and went to college.

“She was just an all around person, just very humble and genuine but always believed in taking care of business first," said Trevor Sundy, her second son.

She began her college journey at SKCTC and then worked at the school for nearly 40 years.

“She would often joke and say that she started here when they were planting the trees and that she’d be here when these trees would fall down," said David C. Dixon, one of Dr. Sundy’s students and co-workers.

Her passion was education and helping students especially minorities and women.

“Everyone knew her from her position at the college of trying to help students be better and also help them do the right thing," said Terry.

She also continued her education, getting her masters degree and then her doctorate just three years before she died.

Andrea Massey, her co-worker for more than 25 years said learned how to be a leader from Dr. Sundy.

“She wanted you to know as much as she did. She always wanted you not to think of her as the boss but we would always say boss lady but she’d say, 'I’m not the boss you’re going to learn everything that I know," said Massey.

Dr. Sundy fought many illnesses during her life including cancer and a progressive liver disease. In 1990, she was told she had three years to live, she fought for 30 more.

“She just kept fighting. You would never know if she was sick or not cause even up until recently she was still cracking jokes doing the same things we’ve always done," said Trevor.

Dr. Sundy won the 2019 East Kentucky Leadership Award for Public Individual.

She said in an interview with WYMT in April 2019, “If you were to ask me what I want to be remembered for, it would be for leadership.”

Dr. Sundy’s children are beginning a scholarship/foundation in her name to help minorities and women. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you send checks to Southeast Education Foundation, 700 College Road, Cumberland, KY 40823. On the memo line put her name, Carolyn Sundy.

A funeral is being planned on Saturday at Greater Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Lynch. The viewing will be from 10 a.m. to noon with the funeral starting at noon.

Dr. Sundy’s body will like “in state” at SKCTC in Cumberland for general viewing on Friday until noon.

Copyright 2020 WYMT. All rights reserved.

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