Life Story / Obituary
Although she was a vibrant woman who accomplished a great many things throughout her life, there was nothing that JoAnn Smith considered to be of greater worth than being a wife, mother, and grandmother. She was resourceful and hard-working whether within the workplace or in running her household with ease. JoAnn was blessed to find the love of her life with whom she experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer while raising children who made them so very proud. Generous, loving, and quick to laugh, she drew others near and celebrated life with numerous friends whom she loved like family. Strong, courageous, and even tough at times, JoAnn was an inspiration to all who knew her. Although she will be deeply missed, her timeless legacy will be carried on by those who follow her.
The year 1929 is often remembered as the year of the historic crash of the stock market that sent our nation and much of the world spiraling down into the depths of the Great Depression. However, it was also during this same year that JoAnn Smith made her arrival into the world on July 1st. Born to Mr. and Mrs. James Brown, she was a typical young girl of her generation who attended Glenmont Schools where she played in the high school band. JoAnn was also a talented singer who had plans of attending Cincinnati Music School after graduating from high school, but her plans quickly changed when something even more exciting unfolded in her life.
It was her introduction to a young man named Ken Smith, who had just returned from serving in the military and took a job working for her father at the stone quarry, that made her life change direction. It was love at first sight for Jo when she first laid eyes on Ken, so she pursued him and the rest is history as they say. She and Ken always knew how to make life interesting including the time while dating that they needed to have her lay across the fender of the car using a flashlight to guide them to get through a blanket of fog that enveloped them in order to get her home on time. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, the sweethearts were married on September 11, 1948.
Also as a young woman, JoAnn attended Wooster Business College in 1948. She then worked as a secretary at Kent State for one year before settling in as an office employee at Firestone Tire & Rubber Company for five years. This job suited Ken just fine since he was then able to golf at Firestone Country Club!
With her eyes fixed on what was to come, JoAnn left the workplace in December of 1954 while pregnant with her first child. Suzanne came along the following year, and with Jeff’s birth in 1958 and the eventual addition of pets Lord McDuff and Sir Benjamin their family was complete. JoAnn was a nurturing mother who effortlessly ran their household while holding both of her children to high standards. She supported them in everything they did and attended all of their school and extra-curricular activities. JoAnn was a room mother at their school and also a member of the PTA. Her family appreciated her fantastic cooking skills; her husband even said that he preferred Jo’s cooking over eating out. When her children were young the family enjoyed memorable vacations to Taylor’s Cottages in East Tawas as well as a couple of years spent at a cottage on Crystal Lake. Holidays were often spent with JoAnn’s family in Columbus where everyone loved getting together. They all loved it when she made what have been called the world’s best ginger cookies in addition to her homemade caramel candies.
After more than 16 years at home, JoAnn returned to work as a medical assistant for Dr. Miller in Garden City where she worked for the next two years. During the mid-seventies she began working as a receptionist in the emergency room at Metro West Hospital in Westland. Eventually, Metro West was acquired by the Henry Ford Health System, and JoAnn remained within the company, moving to various facilities as opportunities arose until her retirement after 20 years. No matter where she was working she was well liked by her fellow co-workers and supervisors alike, so much so that she didn’t ruffle any feathers on either side of the picket line while some co-workers were on strike. JoAnn was dedicated to her work as she even once accepted a ride on the back of a neighbor’s snowmobile to get to the hospital during a time of heavy snowfall. She remains the only family member to have ridden on a snowmobile.
Never one to be idle, JoAnn was a woman of many interests. She spent several years on bowling leagues and she could more than hold her own in a game of cards. JoAnn particularly enjoyed the many card games they played as a family, and who could forget the sight of her tapping her middle finger on the table while asking her opponent to “pick one.” She was gifted with her hands, knitting several lap blankets for veterans as well as numerous baby blankets, sweaters, and throw blankets which she enjoyed giving to others. JoAnn also had several cross-stitched tablecloths and hooked rugs to showcase her skills. She was an avid reader who wasn’t particular about what she read as she enjoyed everything from romance novels to thrillers, and although she appeared to watch a lot of television it was mainly on to provide some background noise while she was knitting. During their later years, JoAnn and Ken enjoyed many vacations to Florida during the winter visiting friends who moved there. As someone who loved being social throughout her life, JoAnn enjoyed many parties with friends and neighbors, lunches with old friends, and just being with friends and family.
Giving to the point of being selfless, JoAnn Smith was truly a blessing in the lives of all who were within her reach. She believed in strong family values and living a life of purpose filled with plenty of love, laughter, and grace. JoAnn viewed being a mother and grandmother as both her greatest gift and her highest honor, and it was when surrounded by her loved ones that she experienced true joy. She will never be forgotten.
JoAnn Smith died on May 5, 2014. JoAnn’s family includes her children, Suzanne Smith, and Jeff (Marie) Smith; grandchildren, Stuart, Jason and Bryan Smith. JoAnn was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth and sister, Jean Heinlein. Family will receive friends Tuesday 4-8 p.m. at the Neely-Turowski Life Story Funeral Home, 45100 Warren Road, Canton (west of Sheldon), where a Funeral Service will be held Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Please visit: www.TurowskiLifeStory.com where you can leave a memory or sign the online guestbook.