Many people came to honor her and several of her friends, neighbors and family members spoke fondly and admiringly of her.
Below please find a link to a number of pictures, so graciously taken and provided by my parents' neighbor and friend Sandy Oleesky; a link to the obituary in the local newspaper, and the text of the eulogy delivered by mom's brother, Wayne Wagoner.
My dad, sister, and I know that many of you wish you could have joined us.There will be a gathering in her honor this summer in Michigan. We will let you know the details once they are in place.
We are here today to pay our respects to Mary Beth Smith's memory and to honor the life that she lived.
Thank you for coming to join with us. We appreciate your kindness in hosting this special time. This is very helpful to Gaylord, Gayle and Eric. Beth enjoyed living in the park and making special friends with all of you. We thank you for being here to grieve with us.
My name is Wayne Wagoner. Beth was my sister for 68 years and I have been asked by her closest family to say a few words about her life.
Beth was born to Donald and Mary Wagoner, December the Third, 1942. Beth’s mother, Mary, is in assisted living facility in Northern Indiana. She is 90 years old and many of you will recall meeting her here in the park.
Dad was a sharecropper and we lived in the old farmhouse with running water and electricity, but no furnace and no bathroom. But the outside privy got a lot of use.
After the war Dad and Mother were able to buy the farm and remodel the house. We even had a television.
Dad was a good farmer and provider, but had a hard side that the rest of us had to live with. Mary, Beth’s mother, was our protector in tough times and out of toughness and tenderness Beth and I had the foundation for productive lives.
Beth started school at the one-room schoolhouse when she was 4 and a half. I remember Dad modifying her bike so she could reach the pedals.
When she was in Kindergarten, she sang this song to her class: "Bell bottom trousers, coat of navy blue. She loved a sailor boy and he loved her too."
Back then, she was somewhat shy and tough as nails. She kicked me so hard in the shins, it brought tears to my eyes and caused me to honor her space.
When Beth was 11 years old, she got really sick. Beth recalled that our parents did not react quickly and that I stepped forward and demanded that she go to the doctor. She remembered it being the first time that I was ever compassionate to her.
It turned that she had polio. She wore a body cast and had a long healing time, but as you might guess, she whipped the polio.
In 1956, she went off to Niles High School, a big jump from 25 in the whole school to a class of 250. She graduated from there in 1960 and left for Michigan State, where she got a teaching degree in 1964. She started her teaching career at Perry Public Schools that fall.
In July of ‘65, she met Gaylord Smith. He came to her apartment to do some electrical work. They fell in love and got married five months later, on New Year’s Eve.
In the summer of 1966, they celebrated their marriage by spending two months driving around Europe in a Volkswagen van and camping along the way. They had enough "sleeping on the ground" for the rest of their lives.
Gayle was born in 1968. Like her mom, she became a teacher and married another teacher, Paul Hughes. And also like her mom, they are both very good at what they do. They live in Spring Creek, Nevada with their two children, John and Kate. They are apples of Beth and Gaylord’s life. Beth had them on her computer screen every day. I’m sure many of you saw them riding the bikes their Grandfather bought for them around the park.
Eric was born in 1971. He rode the snow machines almost before he could walk. He has gone to several colleges and has an MBA from the University of South Carolina. He now lives in Brazil and is a man of the world. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently. Eric is in the real estate business and has a special friend, Nel, who is Brazilian and came with him to visit his parents here at the park.
From the birth of their children until the present time, the Smiths worked hard at their careers and were able to retire early. They managed their finances well, as have their children. They traveled extensively. They RV’ed twice to Alaska and many other places in the U.S. and Canada. They had rich experiences with each other, with their friends, their kids and their extended family.
My sister was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend to many, many people.
She was a hiker and walker, in the Smokies and in the Grand Canyon. She walked with her group from the North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
She was determined to do the things she wanted to do and was willing to train beyond what you and I could dream of.
She was not only a walker and hiker, but a birder, a biker, a master gardener, a reader, a thinker, advanced user of the Internet; she was informed and had well thought-out reasons for her opinions.
She would want us to walk forward with her hope in our hearts. With God’s help, may it come to pass for all whose lives she touched.