DAVIS ISLANDS — Sue Ellen Boggs never had a career. Like a lot of women of her generation, all she ever really wanted was to be a mother.
It was a job she excelled at, her daughter said.
"She was just the coolest mom," said Whitney Boggs Storick.
She loved music and was always up on the latest trends. In the early 1970s, when Mrs. Boggs was nearing 40, she took her kids to a Rod Stewart concert, back when Stewart was a rocker who appealed to teenagers.
When Mrs. Boggs died Sunday, Sept. 25, at age 77, her CD collection included Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
There were only a few times, Storick said, when she thought her mom maybe wasn't so cool.
Mrs. Boggs loved sports and was a devoted fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning.
"When she'd see one of the Bucs players at the mall or something, she'd chase them down," Storick said. "It was embarrassing. I'd always hide in another store."
That didn't happen often, though. Most of the time, Storick said, Mrs. Boggs was an inspiration to her kids and everyone else who knew her.
She was born and raised in Huntington, W.Va.
"Her father ran a bakery that had been handed down in the family," Storick said. "Everyone in Huntington knew them because of the bakery."
After she married a young lawyer named E. Jackson Boggs, she talked him into moving to Tampa. He was content living in West Virginia, but she convinced him that a larger and rapidly growing city in Florida was a better place for a young family.
"She made him move here," Storick said, "and it just happened to be the best thing they ever did."
The couple moved to Davis Islands around 1960, and Mrs. Boggs lived there until she died. Her husband worked for the law firm Fowler White, which is now Fowler White Boggs.
The marriage didn't last. The couple divorced after about 15 years.
"We remained a family," Storick said. "Even after my dad remarried, we were very much a family unit. Even his new wife became part of the family unit."
Her kids thought of Mrs. Boggs as their best friend, but she never had any trouble guiding them to do the right thing, Storick said. She never had to yell or scold or punish them. Her kids just wanted to please her, so they did anything she wanted.
Even though she didn't have a job, Mrs. Boggs, who never remarried, was seldom idle. She immersed herself in creative activities, constantly taking classes and discovering new media. Her artwork, which ranged from oil paintings and watercolors to ceramics and silversmithing, was so impressive that acquaintances assumed she was a professional.
"She'd always say she wasn't good enough," Storick said. "To her, it was just a hobby."
When she wasn't creating art, she was attending shows at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts or working with community groups, including Las Damas, Friends of Art and the Davis Islands Garden Club.
She remained healthy and active until being diagnosed about five months ago with glioblastoma, an especially aggressive brain tumor.
Storick said she's still reeling from the loss, especially because her mother was so vibrant until so recently. The messages of support from old friends have helped her cope.
"Ever since she died, I've been getting texts from my friends," Storick said. "They all say, 'You had the coolest mom.' "
Times correspondent Marty Clear can be reached at [email protected]tampabay.rr.com.