Astoria Middle School computer teacher Dana McMakin's son Dylan normally only tolerated math teachers.

But Candy Drury, a middle school math teacher who lost her life to cancer last week, was different, McMakin said.

"Dylan loved Candy," she said. "Every time Candy's name is mentioned, Dylan chimes in with this story:

"Candy had been trying to communicate her enthusiasm for math and the world of possibilities it represents. My son felt that she had ... exaggerated her belief in the wonders of math.

"As 13-year-olds are prone to do, he called her on it: 'So, you're saying that if you were walking down the street and came upon a complicated math problem written in chalk on the sidewalk, you would feel compelled to stop and solve the problem because you think that you would learn something that would help you understand the world better?'

"'Most definitely!' she replied.

"That little incident changed my son's life in a subtle, but important, way. For the first time, it occurred to him that perhaps there was more than one way to look at the world, that, perhaps, there was value and meaning to be found in areas that he had never before considered."

Drury battled kidney cancer for nearly four years before she died at age 55 Sept. 17, said her sister Darcie Hays, of Gilbert, Ariz.

"When I think of Candy, I think of a soldier who was killed in battle, but just valiantly kept fighting," middle school counselor Donna Carson said.

Drury was well known as a math teacher, but few people knew about Drury's other talent. She sketched portraits and painted abstract pieces.

"She was kind of funny," Betty Brennen said. "She wouldn't paint anything unless somebody asked her to."

Her husband David Drury said his wife's paintings fascinated him.

"I'd just sit there in amazement," said Drury, who teaches guitar at Clatsop Community College. "She was a very private person. She never showed her artwork."

Candy Drury minored in art at Arizona State University.

"She almost had a double major," David Drury said, but instead she chose teaching as her major.

The Drurys' daughter Kate, 18, will follow her parents in the collegiate life as she begins classes at Oregon State University this week, David Drury said.

Astoria Middle School math teacher Barbara Miller remembers Candy Drury's frequent advice, "'Don't worry about it.' It didn't matter what it was, her constant reminder was 'Don't worry.'

"I think Candy learned to do that more and more for herself as well, especially as her illness progressed. Time was short, too short to carry the burdens unnecessarily."

Candy Drury and Miller first met when Miller attended classes at Clatsop Community College where Drury taught math from 1983 to 1994.

Candy Drury also taught math and computers at Lewis and Clark Elementary School from 1989 to 1994.

Years later, when Miller finished her teaching degree, she said she was thrilled to learn she would have a room adjacent to Candy Drury's at Astoria Middle School. Drury taught at the middle school from 1994 until last year, when she left school for cancer treatment.

"She was so disappointed when she had to interrupt her teaching last year for medical treatment," Principal Bob Roth said. "Candy was an exemplary teacher who truly made a positive impact on her students through her teaching skills and passion for young people."

Miller said she recalls conversations she shared with Candy Drury during her last year at the middle school.

"She was always gracious and brave," she said. "I don't think Candy ever really gave up on a cure. She just went to sleep before a cure came and I think now, she's home safe."