ESTHERVILLE - Funeral services for Juanita "Nita" Marjorie Smith, 79, of Estherville will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at Henry-Olson Funeral Chapel in Estherville with Pastor Gwen Mader officiating. Interment will be at East Side Memorial Cemetery in Estherville.
Juanita "Nita" Marjorie Smith passed from this life Thursday morning, March 23, 2012, after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. While the disease sidetracked Juanita's plans in life, it failed to diminish her ability to bring out the best in others and it never took her love of music.
Nita was born on Jan. 28, 1933, in the same bedroom as her father before her, in the family farmhouse southwest of Superior. She was the first child born to Hiram Victor "Vic" and Marjorie Isabel (Hutchinson) Miner. Hiram chose the name Juanita for his daughter because he liked the famous Spanish love song "Nita, Juanita". Nita's maternal grandparents lived in the same home, so she grew up surrounded by family. By her own admission, she was delightfully spoiled, having armloads of dolls, several sheep and a pony.
Juanita ‘Nita’ Smith
After the death of her mother in 1947, Nita retreated to the warmth and love of the home of Orville "Abe" and Altamae Smith. After graduating from Superior High School in 1950, Nita married the eldest Smith son, Jerome Lee Smith, in the living room of her family's farmhouse. As Jerry had enlisted in the United States Army prior to the marriage, he was soon shipped to Germany to serve three years. Nita lived with her sister-in-law and close friend, Ardis. The pair worked for the phone company until Jerry's return.
Jerry and Nita made their home in Superior, where Jerry worked first for Northern Natural Gas and later at the Superior Lumberyard. The opportunity to own their own land arrived in 1958 when the young couple's firstborn, a son named Michael Kelly, was 4 and their second child, a daughter to be named Jodi Kathleen, was due. Two weeks after Jodi's birth, Jerry and Nita moved their young family to a farm south of Presho, S.D. They worked the land owned by Clyde and Goldie Willard of Spirit Lake on shares until 1972 when Nita and Jerry became sole owners. Nita worked tirelessly on the farm/ranch operation. She provided an unending supply of homemade bread, cookies and pies and took coffee and goodies to the field no less than twice a day. She canned and froze produce from her large garden and the plum trees to help provide for the family.
Nita was active in the local community, serving on the Presho Library Board, leading or participating in all church activities and projects, singing in the church choir and holding membership in Eastern Star. She was a tireless writer - her family would find her at the kitchen table nearly every morning, writing letters to family back in Iowa. She held a secret aspiration to author children's books.
Nita walked gracefully through life dealing with challenges as they arose and enjoying the smallest happiness with gusto. She loved her family without question and was dedicated to bringing out the best in people. She was an excellent friend. She and Jerry shared a profound love during their 61 years together. She remembered him to the end and would visibly brighten at his presence.
Nita was preceded in death by her son Michael (2003), mother Marjorie (1947), Father Victor (1991) and stepmother Genevieve Rowe (2007). She is survived by her husband, Jerry, Presho, S.D.; daughter Jodi (Jeff) Sugrue, Silver City, S.D.; grandchildren Lee (Aubree) Smith of Piedmont, S.D., Joanna Smith of Billings, Mont. and Christian and Hannah Sugrue of Silver City, S.D. and great-grandchildren, Trinity and Michael J.R. Smith, of Piedmont, S.D. Juli Kirkpatrick, mother of Nita's grandchildren Lee and Joanna, remained a loved and significant person throughout life. Also surviving are sister, Margaret Wilshusen, Mora, Mo.; brother, Lee (Laura) Miner and half-sisters, Vicki (Brad) LaBille, Sedalia, Mo. and Colleen (Dan) Bierman, of Chehalis, Wash.
Memorials may be directed to the Presho Public Library or the Presho United Methodist Church. The family also suggests you plant wildflowers and really good tomato plants in Nita's honor. Hug your family. Play with your dog. Tell good stories and write them down. Read a book to a child. Create moments to tell people what they mean to you. Write a letter to your friends and loved ones. Online condolences may be sent to www.henryolsonfuneral.com