MaryBeth Davison Smith
MaryBeth Smith, bonne vivant, blew this popsicle stand on July 13, 2020 in Houston after an epic wrestling match with radioactive alligators in Buffalo Bayou – AKA a sudden and brief illness, which still stumps her doctors: complications after spontaneous blood clotting events unrelated to COVID-19.
She was born Mary Elizabeth Davison on May 17, 1955 in Joliet, Illinois to William Ringold and Mary Frances (Winburne) Davison. She graduated from Homewood-Flossmoor High in 1973 where she was a proud member of the elite, globe-trotting Viking Choir, and she would sometimes skip school and hop the train to baseball games at Wrigley Field. She then earned a degree in Music Education at the University of Illinois in 1977 and her Master of Music at The University of Texas-San Antonio in 1991.
She was a member of the voice faculty at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) but was denied tenure because academia is misogynist as hell. She never let the bastards get her down, though. Ever the Queen of the Pivot, she discovered Feldenkrais and became a world-renowned practitioner, founding the Feldenkrais Center of Houston in 2002.
MaryBeth is survived by her daughter Abby Whitmire (Jake Dickerson); son Geoff Smith (Sydney Dittman); brother Jim Davison (Su Kui Chun); "GrandBoy" and joy of her life William Whitmire; former husband and lifelong best friend Tim Smith; her sweet kitties Pixel and Porkchop; and hundreds upon hundreds of adoring friends, former students, and clients. She doted on all of us, and our lives are much richer for her presence.
She loved music, art, performing, Feldenkrais, science, big ideas, her hometown of Chicago, her adopted hometown of Houston, and her beloved Chicago Cubs.
An activist to her core, she testified before the Houston City Council in support of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. As a movement and voice educator, some of her clients included people who sought her expertise to align their movements and voices to their authentic selves. She was a fierce and constant accomplice to the LGBTQIA+ community.
In her final years, she found the Quakers and became an active member of the Live Oak Friends Meeting in Houston. She loved the James Turrell Skyspace of the meeting house and served as a docent for tours there.
Following in her parents' footsteps, her body will be donated to science at the University of Texas Health Science Center McGovern Medical School. After her final contribution to research and knowledge, her remains will be scattered over Lake Michigan.
Whenever she would give advice, she'd always say, "Well, it'll be this or something better." We hope she's gone on to something better.
MaryBeth thrived among large groups of friends and family. In that spirit, a memorial will be held at a later date when it is safe to gather again.
In lieu of flowers, we request that you donate to the following organizations in her memory: Live Oak Friends Meeting, The Jung Center of Houston, Transgender Education Network of Texas, and/or Black Lives Matter: Houston. Please give blood to your local blood bank.
Honor her by belting out a tune, rolling around on the floor, nerding out over neuroplasticity, drinking a jalapeno margarita or French 75 (if you imbibe), and eating a ton of veggies! Hold her in the light. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, and call your mom.
Published by Houston Chronicle on Jul. 13, 2021.