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Cornelia Justine Whalen Smyle

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Cornelia Justine Whalen Smyle (known to all as “Justine”), 81, died on March 26, 2004. She was born on July 28, 1922 in Rutland, Vt. Justine grew up in Vermont and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Vermont, where she was the editor of the university student newspaper and active in the Pi Beta Phi Sorority.

Throughout her life she maintained contact with her sorority and her sorority sisters. A war bride, Justine married Russell C. Smyle in Montreal, Canada in 1944. As the wife of a career Army officer, she traveled extensively, including living throughout the United States and two tours in Germany. The first of the tours in Germany was in the early 1950s with the U.S. Army of Occupation and the second in the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War.

Justine and Russell first came to San Antonio during the second world war where they lived on Summit Avenue, and, in later years, often reminisced of their long evening walks to downtown. They returned to San Antonio in 1960 for a tour of duty with the 4th Army at Ft. Sam Houston, and upon her husband’s retirement from the military in 1967, they made San Antonio their permanent home.

In addition to raising six children, Justine was an active member of whatever community she was a part of. As a teacher, she taught English in grade school for many years, including fifth grade at San Antonio’s St. Anthony’s Catholic Grade School in the early1960s. She taught adult reading to GI’s on a number of military bases and taught in nursery school.

Following her settling in San Antonio, she was active in the Our Lady of Grace Altar Society, the Gibbons Literary Club, was a Cub Scout den mother and obtained her interior design certification at St. Mary’s University. Following the death of her husband in 1993, Justine resided at the Madison Retirement Community in San Antonio where she enjoyed the company of her friends, family and occasional traveling, including several trips to Costa Rica and an 80th birthday celebration trip to Bennington and Burlington, Vt. to celebrate with old friends and family. Justine is survived by her uncle, Frances Whalen of Chelmsford, Mass.; her two brothers, Darcy and John of Bennington, Vt.; her six children, Dianne Budnik and her husband, Patrick of San Antonio, Sharon Burpo of San Antonio, Kathleen Burridge and her husband, Paul of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Deborah Kiriazes of San Antonio, James Smyle and his wife, Joan of San Antonio, and Craig Smyle and his wife, Lisa also of San Antonio; 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. While her children and grandchildren are profoundly saddened by her loss, they honor and celebrate the quiet courage and determination that characterized her life.

Funeral mass is Tuesday, March 30 at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church. Interment is in Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be made in Justine’s name to: Ft. Roger La Charit, S.S.E., Edmundite Missions, 1428 Broad St., Selma, AL 36701-4304.
Published in Bennington Banner on Mar. 30, 2004
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