Mary Elizabeth Smith, born Mary Elizabeth Schirm January 28, 1918, in Middletown, Ohio, to Karl and Lena Schirm, passed away just after midnight February 1, 2016 in Bakersfield, California after suddenly having problems with her heart. Her spirit did not weaken up to the end. She was laughing and talking with family up until the evening of January 30.
Mary was an extraordinary lady. She was the middle daughter of a family of three girls and one boy. She was so good at school it was suggested she skip a grade (her father rejected the idea). She wrote her older sister's high school book reports and, after she was back from college herself, wrote of all of her younger sister's college papers. She was her high school's valedictorian and graduated from an accelerated teacher's degree program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her parents gave her elocution lesson so that she was trained to recite, play the piano and sing.
She retained a tomboy side. She hiked though the woods, played golf, tennis and the street game "shinny." She worked as a life guard during her high school years. Her voracious reading fueled an imagination that led to organizing the neighborhood kids into games of pretend cowboys, pirates, soldiers and other derring-do. "Do you know what your Mary has done now?" was a question her mother often heard in those days.
She met, and fell in love with, and married J. Edgar Smith, the love of her life. The meeting was while she was in college, but the marrying was delayed by WWII and their separate job paths until 1948. After marrying in Las Vegas, they moved to Los Angles, then moved to Bakersfield. They had three children, Jay C. (called Chris by the family), Jeffry L, and Kimberly K. Smith, in 1950, 1952, and 1955.
Mary was a gifted teacher. She taught in Middletown Ohio, then Azusa, CA, then in the Beardsley district. She took time off to raise her children, then worked at Bakersfield City Schools until her retirement. While teaching at Mt. Vernon Elementary in the 1960s she met three special people, young teachers who became her "Bridge Girls." The group added four more friends, has kept together for over fifty years, and gave her a wonderful birthday lunch the Friday before she died. These friends held her up during the loss of her husband, her leg, and her daughter.
J. Edgar Smith died in March, 1977, and Mary and Kimberly had a wonderful 26 years traveling the US and the world and enjoying each other's company. Mary's life was marred by the loss of her right leg in the fall of 2000, but with Kimberly's help she continued on, still going on family visits to Ventura and Monterey. Kimberly died far too early, in November, 2003. Since 2005 Mary lived with her son Jay and his wife Margaret, often with help from caretakers. Mary enjoyed bridge, mystery novels, visits for communion with her Elder Bill Schaefer of Lutheran Church of Prayer, and seeing her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Mary was preceded in death by all her immediate family, parents and siblings, and her beloved daughter Kimberly. She is survived by sons Jeffry and Jay, and by Jay's wife Margaret. She had six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Mary lived a full life, encouraging and amusing those around her. Her family is grateful that her end was swift and not too uncomfortable. We are very grateful to the Bridge Girls, Bill Schaefer, Dr. Stephen Strategos, and her last caretaker, Trina. We also thank the doctors, nurses and workers at the ER and the fifth floor of San Joaquin hospital who treated her and her loved ones with so much compassion and concern in her last hours.
There will be a viewing Thursday Feb. 4, from 6 to 8 pm. Graveside services will be held Friday Feb. 5, at 1 pm, both at Hillcrest Memorial Park, 9101 Kern Canyon Road, 93306.
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