Community mourns passing of longtime substitute teacher

Sapulpa Public Schools is missing one of its best these days.

Emily Elizabeth DeLancy, known by most as “Liz,” passed away suddenly this week after a series of medical issues led to her being hospitalized.

Liz was most well-known in the education circles as a faithful substitute teacher for both Holmes Park Elementary and Sapulpa Middle School.

Liz DeLancy

“We loved having her in the office,” said Roger Johnson, principal at Holmes Park. “She had a laugh that was contagious.  You’d find yourself sometimes laughing, just because she was laughing, having no idea what was said.”

A mother to 14-year-old Addison, who attended Holmes Park in elementary school, Johnson says Liz was like family. “Once a husky, always a husky,” he said.

“She would always be there for us when we needed a substitute, whether it was in the classroom or at the office. She also spoke her mind, but she was loved by everyone.”

Holmes Park Elementary pays tribute to Liz DeLancy.

That same sentiment was shared by her longtime friend Kimberly Wood, who said Liz was “one of the most faithful friends that a person could have.”

“You could not talk to her for a month, but if you needed something, she made herself available for you, no matter the circumstances” she said.

Wood says that she was surprised by her sudden passing, because at the time they were preparing to bring her home.

“We didn’t realize that she wouldn’t be coming home,” she said.

In mid-December, DeLancy had a procedure for a blockage that was discovered in her heart. She had surgery, and the blockage was removed. According to Wood, everything went well and Liz was home in a matter of days.

“We went through Christmas and everything else, no problem.”

Then, on the morning of December 27th, she woke up not feeling well.

Liz’s daughter, Addison, talked about those events hat led to her being hospitalized.

“She said, ‘we need to go to the hospital,’ and were driving (from Kellyville) and she said, ‘is it crazy for me to be praying that there’s an ambulance at this gas station?’ and there was.”

According to Addison and Ms. Wood, the paramedics at the ambulance in Kellyville told Liz that she “most likely had heartburn,” and they gave her an aspirin and told her to go to the ambulance station in Sapulpa because they didn’t have a working EKG in their truck.

Liz made it to the next gas station near the intersection of Highways 66 and 33 before she said “I’m going to go out,” and lost consciousness. Another ambulance was called, and she was taken to OSU Medical Center in Tulsa before being life-flighted to Oklahoma City.

Not long after what doctors determined was a heart attack, Liz DeLancy suffered a massive stroke, which led to swelling of the brain, requiring surgery.

Even up to that time, Ms. Wood and Liz’s family were all expecting “a long road to recovery,” but as her condition worsened, doctors told them the unfortunate truth.

“They came and told us, ‘we’ve done all we can, we just have to make her comfortable now,'” Wood said.

In those final days, Wood said she told Liz that she’d take care of Addison, and that she saw Liz respond. “She opened her eyes really wide, I know she heard me,” she said.

Liz passed away on Tuesday morning, January 10th.

Wood and Addison say that they’ve kept so busy, the reality hasn’t had time to set in, yet. “It’s so easy to think that she’s going to be back at any moment,” Addison says.

“She was a get-up-and-go kind of person,” she continued. “It was her way or no way. If we wanted to do something and we were broke, we’d still go.”

Liz DeLancy, left, and her daughter Addison.

She says she’ll try to continue to do the things she and her mom did together, like taking trips with their dog, Lucy. She’ll also try to emulate Liz with regard to loyalty, which she says was her best quality. “She never made promises she couldn’t fulfill.”

Addison says she’ll miss her mom’s hugs and laughs the most. “When she hugged you, you knew she cared about you.”

Liz DeLancy’s funeral will be 1:00 pm, Monday, January 16, 2023, at the First Christian Church in Sapulpa. There is a GoFundMe to assist with funeral expenses.