Jeanette Bernice Smith

March 19, 1934 ~ October 19, 2020 (age 86)


Jeanette Smith, 86, was born in Superior, WI on March 27, 1934, the fourth daughter of Ed and Jenny Branzell, she was frequently reminded that she and her sisters were direct descendants of the “Swedish Nightingale”, Jenny\ Lind. Music was “in their veins”, and it played a prominent role in their young lives. In 1952, when Jeanette was only 17, she had a whirlwind romance with Gordon Smith. They met and married in less than a year, but the love they had for each other lasted a lifetime. As part of the “Greatest Generation”, Jeanette and Gordon lived through one of the most incredible periods of change the world has ever seen. For many who grew up in the 1960’s, those changes were unsettling. It was a time of rootlessness, experimentation and challenging authority. Jeanette’s three children experienced very little of this, primarily because Jeanette would not allow it. Mark, Kim and Stacy lived a peaceful, somewhat sheltered life as the world flew apart around them. At the center of that life was a mother who was steady and dependable. She had an incredible sense for knowing what her children needed. Sometimes she was encouraging, sometimes she was stern, sometimes she intervened on their behalf, sometimes she let them face the consequences associated with the decisions they made. These things were always done with sensitivity and intentionality, because “that’s what mothers do.” She had a similar relationship with her husband Gordon. When his emotions were too high, she knew how to bring him down. When he was too low, she knew how to bring him up. She was the glue that held the family together. In 1971, Gordon made the decision to give up his career in the tool and die industry and to enter the ministry. For Jeanette, this meant going from quiet obscurity to the fishbowl. It was very different from what she had signed up for when she and Gordon were first married. Like everything else in life, Jeanette handled these changes with peace and calm. As far as her family was concerned, she was the definition of what it means to be a non-anxious presence. She never wrote a book. She never composed a symphony. She seldom did anything to draw attention to herself. Her part in making this world a better place, was to simply be the wife and mother she was called by God to be. So long as her husband and children were okay, she was content. That’s what made her so powerful. She didn’t have to be the center of attention to find meaning in life. She only had to know that the people she loved were safe. In her own way, she changed the world. Jeanette was married to the late Gordon Smith for 65 years. She is survived by her three children, Mark (Robin) Smith of Knoxville, TN, Kim Smith of Southside, AL and Stacy (Kevin) Risley of Chattanooga, TN, 7 grandchildren and 11 great- grandchildren. A graveside service will be held Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm at Chattanooga Memorial Park. Arrangements entrusted to Lane Funeral Home, 601 Ashland Terrace, Chattanooga, TN 37415 423-877-3524

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