Sara Caroline (affectionately known as 'lyn) Smith passed away peacefully on May 29, 2020 at the home of her sister after a brief illness. She was surrounded by love and by angels. She was 96 years of age.
A graveside service will be held Monday, June 8, at 11:00 am at Cedarlawn Cemetery, 2434 West Capitol Street in Jackson.
'lyn was born in her family's home off West Capitol Street on March 2, 1924 to Sophia Idelle Summers Smith and Robert Sidney Smith, both originally from Brookhaven, Mississippi.
She attended Poindexter Elementary, Enochs Junior High and Central High School where she graduated with the Class of 1941. After high school, she took a job at City Hall as a city planner for Jackson. She later worked for an architectural and engineering firm and became one of the first women draftsman in Jackson.
Her more creative artistic abilities kept calling and in the mid forties she moved to New York City to attend a school of art and design. It was in New York City that two life changing events happened. One, she changed her name... she never liked Sara Caroline and when she started elementary school, most people called her Sara Carolyn. Others, simply Sara. But in NYC, two friends, on the same day, separately told her that they dreamed she should be called 'lyn. She liked it and since that time has always been known as 'lyn... the spelling taken from the end of Carolyn, even though her name was Caroline. The most important event was that she met her forever life-long blood sister, Nazoma (Zoe) Roznos Ball. They both lived in the same women's hotel. One night, Zoe heard painful moaning coming through the pipes in her room. Realizing the person was in dire trouble, Zoe roamed each floor of the hotel, listening through each door trying to locate the moaning person. She walked into 'lyn's room and saw 'lyn, who she did not know, curled up in bed with a severe case of sunburn. Apparently 'lyn had spent the day on the beach at Coney Island without the use of sunscreen, or, back in the day, suntan lotion. Zoe bathed her in rubbing alcohol and sat by her bed, holding her hand throughout the night and saved 'lyn's life. Thus, the beginning of a beautiful friendship. They literally talked on the phone every day of their lives until Zoe's death on Mother's Day in 2013. After graduating from the school of art and design, 'lyn and Zoe got an apartment together in NYC. They both found jobs at Radio City Music Hall. 'lyn's job was running the executive VIP elevator at Radio City Music Hall. She loved telling stories of how she would always take Gary Cooper to the VIP floor. She also befriended the famous “Rockettes”.
After her father died in 1947, 'lyn returned to Jackson briefly before moving to Jacksonville, Florida to work, once again, doing city planning drafting work. Missing family and friends, she returned to Jackson.
She became involved with the Jackson Little Theatre (currently New Stage) where she met her husband, Charles G. Smith, Jr. Charles was a City Editor, Publisher and Columnist for the Clarion Ledger and The Clinton News, a journalism professor at Central High School and later at Mississippi College. He was a graduate in the first class of reserve officers from the Jackson Police Department Reserve Unit. They were married in 1957 and were together for 51 years until his death in 2008.
In the 1970s, 'lyn had her own television show called “'lyn's Notebook” on WAPT. She interviewed all kinds of interesting people including local, national and international artists and celebrities. She did calligraphy professionally. She wrote poetry and self published her own poems, which she wrote in calligraphy. She wrote children's plays which were performed on stage. She was a fantastic artist and especially loved drawing landscapes with lots of trees. She loved bright, blue skies with only whispers of clouds and really, really, really red cars. She enjoyed seeing elephant trunks, rabbits, whales and other animals in cloud formations. She was an avid crossword puzzle solver... without a single mistake. She cherished books and loved telling and listening to stories. One of her favorite stories was when she “rubbed bellies with the King of England” as they were passing each other in the aisle on a train while journeying somewhere in Europe. She loved to travel and did so extensively... exploring Europe on several occasions, other parts of the world, and took many road trips across the United States. She loved looking at water, especially driving over the Vicksburg bridge and looking at the Mighty Mississippi. “Murder She Wrote”, “Matlock” and Turner Classic Movies were always playing on her TV set... at volume 100. She adored turtles, but mostly, she loved cats... lots and lots of cats. And adored all creatures... great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. She always said, “if the good Lord can make all creatures, I can love them.” And she did. With all her heart. She was sweet, loving, talented, vibrant, feisty all rolled into one wonderful character.
Her personalized license plate said: PAWS. For years, everyone thought it was because of her love for animals. When asked, she replied, “it is an understanding, a merger, so to speak, of who I am and what I love.” PAWS, she said, stood for Poet, Artist, Writer, Singer... that's exactly who she was which translated into her love for all creatures that had “Paws”.
She was a long time member of St. Andrew's Cathedral. Eventually she joined The First Baptist Church where her membership was until her death, although in 2012 she returned to visiting different Episcopal churches as well as Holy Trinity Anglican Church. She always possessed a strong sense of spirituality and an extreme love and devotion to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Throughout her life she was active in several women’s Bible study groups. She believed that no harm would ever befall her because she was always surrounded by angels. Even when the end comes, she always said, “they will be escorting me to Heaven”.
She is predeceased by her parents and her husband, Charles G. Smith, Jr. She is survived by her beloved sister, Barbara Smith Fortenberry Hederman of Jackson, nieces Tina L. Fortenberry of Jackson/Los Angeles, Lisa Fortenberry of Los Angeles, nephew John Fortenberry (Nelle) of New York City, great niece Tess Fortenberry and great nephew Chance Fortenberry, both of New York City. She is also survived by her beloved cat, Shy/Sky and many treasured and cherished cousins, friends, neighbors and all the stray animals that roam the earth.
The family would like to express special thanks and sincere gratitude to her doctor and friend, Dr. Marion Wofford, who was with 'lyn every step of the way during her journey, especially during the last 14 weeks, her extended family Becky McQuarter and Erma McQuarter, who were constant friends and companions to 'lyn over many years, and to Deborah Dixon, Sheila Carter, and Johnnie Morris, her sister's caregivers, who stepped in to help during the last 8 weeks. Also many thanks to Pamela Hancock and Carolyn McLemore for their guidance, advice and encouragement to 'lyn through the years. And thanks to Dr. William S. Cook, Jr., who helped and guided her through her husband's illness.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts and donations may be made to The Robert Sidney Smith Memorial Library Fund at Mississippi College (Mississippi College, Box 4005, Clinton, MS 39058), The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra (P.O. Box 2052, Jackson, MS 39225), the Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi (ARF of MS, 395 West Mayes Street, Jackson, MS 39213) or to a charity of your choice.
'lyn believed that most people had 5 birthdays: conception, birth, being born again, death and entering Heaven. When asked what song she wanted sung at her funeral, she always said, “Happy Birthday”.
Happy Birthday, 'lyn. We love and miss you dearly. May angels provide safe travels on your journey to your next destination.