By Moses Leos III
The Hays CISD community is mourning the loss of longtime Barton Middle School nurse Susie Kana, who passed away Wednesday morning, according to Hays CISD officials.
Kana, 60, had worked within Hays CISD for more than 20 years before her retirement in 2015. She continued to work within the district despite being diagnosed with skin cancer.
In 2013, Kana made history by being named as the first Hays CISD Ambassador of the Year, which honors the district’s employee of the year.
Prior to her retirement in 2015, Kana served as the district’s interim director of Student Health Services.
“She will certainly be missed by the entire Hays CISD family, but particularly by her fellow nurses, her colleagues at Barton, and the many thousands of students she inspired through the years,” Hays CISD Public Information Officer Tim Savoy said in a statement.
Kana’s impact left a mark for many in the community, including Christi Chabarria, who took over the role of head nurse at Barton in 2014.
Chabarria, who spoke with the Hays Free Press in April, said students helped spearhead the “Kana’s Kids” Relay for Life team after hearing of Kana’s second bout with cancer.
Kana had fought the illness into remission, but learned it had returned.
“Knowing how this campus was affected when she was diagnosed again, it felt natural to step into the role and raise money in her honor and support her,” Chabarria said in April.
Members of the community took to Hays CISD’s Facebook page to express their condolences, but also reminisce on Kana’s impact to the community.
“She was the foundation of Barton,” Teri Eubank wrote. “She taught us to do more for the greater good.”
Patti Fleenor Wood wrote that Kana was an “exceptional lady. She will be greatly missed.”
Cyndie Holmes said that Kana sponsored the first Lego League team at Barton “when no other teachers would.”
Laurie Dunn Tumale said her family was saddened by the news.
“While both of our children were at Barton, we had our share of injuries and illnesses and Nurse Kana was always so caring and competent,” Tumale wrote. “Much love to her family, she will be missed.”
David Wiley wrote that he worked with Kana on the school board and she was “simply amazing.”
“Kids came first and the rest of us had to wait in line,” Wiley wrote. “What a loss.”
Brent Ormand said Kana was a great “mother, nurse, mentor, peer and friend.”
“She influenced many lives for the better and took away so much pain as a nurse,” Ormand said. “The world lost a great person Wednesday.”