Family members reflect on love Washington Co. educator Cynthia ‘Cindy’ Elzea had for children


WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Cynthia Elzea, known to most as “Cindy,” passed away due to complications from a battle with COVID-19 on September 20.

She was 44 years old.

During her lifetime, Elzea left a lasting legacy as an educator, friend and mother.

“Gentle, loving person that loved kids,” recalled Elzea’s mother, Connie Buchanan. “Loved her family and loved her boys.”

via Connie Buchanan

“Wonderful daughter, loving mother,” said Elzea’s father, Bobby Castle. “Just an overall good person.”

Buchanan said it’s hard to forget Elzea’s wonderful smile.

“She’d look at you, and you could tell she was happy,” she said.

Several things brought Cindy joy in life, but few of them can compare to the joy she found in working as an instructional assistant.

“She went into early childhood at school, and when she did, she started working for Washington County,” Buchanan said. “And she said ‘I love, love my job.'”

Castle believes her upbringing and love for others led her on a teaching career path.

“I think her being an only child, she sort of migrated toward other children,” he said. “The neighbors’ children or anyone that she would meet at school, they were like her other siblings that she never had to grow up with. She just had one of those personalities where she just loved other people.”

Elzea spent nine years working in the Washington County School System, serving with a purpose that did not go unnoticed.

“We certainly want to remember and celebrate her service to the children of Washington County and contributing to the success of our children and educators,” Washington County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jerry Boyd said.

In all that time spent in classrooms and after-school programs, the common denominator seemed to be the close-knight relationship Cindy had with her students.

“We would be in Walmart or at the mall and all {of} the sudden you’d see a little boy or girl running toward her. ‘Ms. Cindy! Ms. Cindy!'” Castle said. “They just loved her.”

That love was evident by the large number of cards and messages that poured in while she was in the hospital.

“The kids and their cards said it all,” Buchanan said. “They wanted her to come back; ‘hurry up, we miss you. We love you, come on back, we miss you.'”

via Connie Buchanan

Elzea always had a way with children, providing selfless care to not only her students at school, but her two sons, as well.

“They were her life,” Buchanan said. “She put their needs before her needs. And Eric too, her husband. They were all first.”

Eric Elzea passed away in March 2021. However, Castle believes both of his grandsons can carry on the memory of their parents by following a simple recipe.

“I told them the best way to honor their mother, and their father, is to make a difference in the world, regardless of what they do,” Castle said. “Just reach out and touch someone in some way, or to go on to become a doctor or someone in that kind of field. Just make sure you make a difference, and that’s the way you honor the ones that went on before you.”

via Connie Buchanan

Because that’s not just what Cindy Elzea would do. It’s what she did.

“She was not a famous politician or a well-known doctor or a celebrity, but you don’t have to be that to make impressions on people,” Castle said. “Just a kind word, gentle gesture. I think that’s what she did.”

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