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Kelly Lubey: On the street where she has always lived

Kelly Lubey has her hands full.

A long list of patients is scheduled, none of whom she's ever met or whose conditions she's familiar with because she's filling in for someone else.

Then she has to rush home to pick up her son from the baby sitter and beat her three daughters home from school.

Later, she'll start checking homework and getting dinner ready for her family, and at some point, put in a little time on the high school reunion she's been planning.

It's a full day, but that's not unusual for a woman who is constantly trying to strike a balance between career and family.

"I'm just fortunate that my job is so flexible, that I have that luxury," said Lubey, vice president of her 1987 graduating class at Lancaster High School. "I don't have to miss a concert or miss a softball game. I picked a great profession that's very flexible, and because of that I'm happy."

Her career in physical therapy occurred by happenstance. In high school, she thought she wanted to be a nurse, but her mother, Barbara Bart, wasn't sure nursing would be a good fit for her daughter. She suggested that her daughter first volunteer in a local hospital.

"So I candy striped at Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital every Thursday all summer long, and I hated nursing," explained Lubey, who was entering her junior year in high school at the time. "They literally transferred me from department to department until I got to physical therapy, and I loved it."

And she loved Western New York. When she talks about being close to home, she means it. She grew up in the same Depew neighborhood where she now lives with her husband, Bill, her 5-year-old son, Ben, and daughters, Heather, 12, Melissa, 10, and Megan, 7.

If there were a contest to choose the graduate who stayed closest to home, the former Kelly Bart would be tough to beat. Her parents' home -- the one where she grew up -- is 13 houses away.

Lubey has never lived anywhere other than Depew, nor has she ever considered leaving. The pull of home was just too great, she explained.

"My family's here, and that's important," she said. "We could've gone south to get better jobs and more money, but to be away from family didn't seem worth it."

That desire to stay close to home might be genetic.

"I guess she got that from me, because I never left here either," her mother said. "I've lived here all my life. I've never been transplanted. My husband had opportunities to leave with his job, but we stayed. We have roots here."

Lubey's roots trace back to an active high school career, where her enthusiasm spilled out in many directions. She played flute in the concert and marching bands. She played volleyball. And then there was a host of other after-school activities -- ski club, French club, science club and the student union, to name just a few.

After high school, she received a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from Daemen College, the same school her husband attended.

Bill also works as a physical therapist for the Catholic Health System. They had mutual friends in college but didn't know each other at the time. Even though they had heard about each other, the pair didn't meet until both were working at St. Joseph Hospital, where she did her internship and he was her clinical teacher.

Now that she's busy raising the kids, Lubey has cut back on her hours, working on a per diem basis when she's needed to fill in from time to time.

By the beginning of the upcoming school year, all four of her children will be attending schools in Lancaster, the same district she attended.

The connections to her own childhood are often evident. Her oldest daughter's fifth-grade teacher taught Lubey in 11th grade, for instance.

When Lubey talks about such connections, she becomes emotional.

"I'm excited for them because I have so many memories," Lubey said. "When I went to the middle school for orientation for Heather, I was having all these flashbacks and memories . . . good memories."

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