Residents come together to mourn

From 80 to 100 kids called her "Mom" and her husband Mike was "Dad."

"I don't want to see the word 'adoptive,'" Mike Day said. "They were our kids."

That's how about 200 stunned and mourning children, former wards, friends and neighbors remembered Sue Day at a memorial service Tuesday for Sue and her daughter Sheri Day Folts, held in the County Fair Barn in Tucumcari. Sue Day, 76, and Folts, 49, were slain in their home on Nov. 26. Their son, 14-year-old Tony Day, is being held in connection to their deaths.

The mood at Tuesday's service seemed to match Temple Baptist Church Pastor Wes Stewart's description of fellow members of the Temple Baptist Church.

"Shocked, hurt, devastated," he said. "This was totally unexplainable."

Those who attended the service were ready with memories of Sue Day's dedication to children and Sheri Folts's willing assistance.

"Too many words," Michael Jendusa, 19, who was a son to Sue Day for five years, said. "Kind, loving, supportive…"

Jendusa came to Tucumcari from Rochester, N.Y., where he attends school to join the memorial service.

James Markham, a nephew now living with his own family in Manville, Texas, remembered that Sue was so much a second mother to him as a young child that he asked her once why you could only have one mother while you could have multiple uncles, grandfathers and cousins. The fact that he considered her a mother, too, became a "big secret" between them, he said.

Sheri Folts was remembered as a willing helper to her mother in Sue Day's efforts as a foster mother and as a family liaison for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

"She was always there and was a hard working, kind lady," Stewart, who conducted the memorial service, said of Folts. Evan as Folts was undergoing cancer treatments, Stewart said, "I never heard her complain."

Before she and Folts died on Nov. 26, Sue Day had been a foster parent for seven years and had served as a family liaison for CYFD for five years, according to Kristi Cullers, executive director of Land of Enchantment Foster and Adoptive Families, Inc.

As a liaison, Day's job was to work with both parents and the CYFD when a child had to be removed from a home. During this time, the child would be staying with the Days, Culler said.

In this role, Culler said, Day was "amazing and inspiring."

"She loved kids," Culler, "she loved helping them and taking them in."

Day would not spoil the kids, according to several accounts from those who came from many places for the service.

"They had a set of rules and there were consequences for not complying with them," said Kelli Jendusa, Michael's sister and a frequent visitor to the Day home.

Zane Whiley, a niece, remembered a time when she received correction from one of Sue Day's sandals, a frequent means of enforcement. "For every step I took," Whiley said, "I got a whap with that sandal.

Day was also known as "matter of fact" and even "blunt" in her speech.

Self-described as "not the domestic kind," Day once found time to crochet 20 pairs of slippers for the ladies of their church, Stewart remembered.

Leonard Lauriault, interim superintendent of the New Mexico State University Agricultural Experiment Station and a foster parent, said that Sue Day has left "the mantle of Elijah." In the Biblical story, the prophet Elijah left behind a mantle, or cloak, when he ascended to heaven. It took three prophets to finish Elijah's work, Lauriault said. (is detailed description appears in his religion column of Dec. 12 in the Quay County Sun.)

In Day's case, he said, "It will take at least three people to replace her."

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