Smith, Hesta Thompson (Mrs. R.E.)


February 8, 1880 - October 20, 1923
It was October 20, 1923, that season when nature begins to spill over field and forest all her richest colors crowning, the year with the’ goodness and glory of God, at 1:45 o’clock in the morning, that hour of sleep and silence, when the wholesome, happy and heroic spirit of Mrs. Rests Thompson Smith quietly passed into the “other room” where she would take up the assignment of work in the new field for which her life had prepared her.
The simple facts of her life, now more precious because they mark points that made her earth’s life, and ours, for a while, are as follows: Born near Ruskin in Dickson County, Tennessee, Feb. 8, 1880; educated at Edgewood and Ruskin Cave colleges, having completed the’ scientific, musical and expression courses. She was a graduate in both Voice and Piano. In Expression she did graduate work under some of the best teachers of our country. She was a reader and interpreter of exceptional ability. She loved music. Harmony was of the very-texture of her being. Her voice was often heard both at home and in the church, passing easily from the classics of the masters to the simple classics of the soul found in our hymnal. Perhaps no one knows just which field of expression appealed most to her. She pressed eagerly into every door that opened upon life’s wider and deeper realities. She was a student always.
Mrs. Smith was married to Rev. R. E. Smith on Dec. 23, 1897. To them were born one son and two daughters. They, with their father, mourn her loss. There were twenty-five years of undimmed wedded life.
As foundation for the accomplishments of the schools there was the most excellent combination of native capacities. She was a finished product of a Tennessee country home in which there were the most devout Christian influence and training. Hers was a happy and unspoiled girlhood spent among her native hills. Her life seemed to absorb all the beauty and the best of that simple life and then to reflect it as its best expression.
She was a homemaker. This was among her chief accomplishments. There was such executive skill and thrift as make the material affairs of the household run smoothly. Her sunshiny spirit drove away the shadows.
She was a neighbor. How beautifully she sensed just what would be appropriate, and how tactfully she anticipated the desires of those about her.
She was a helpmate. In the most beautiful, efficient and satisfying sense she met all the demands of that high office. How com-pletely she understood the work of her husband; how helpfully she sympathized with him in all his plans. Through both pleasant and painful circumstances she was always the ready and steady counselor and comrade.
She was a mother. Crown of all crowns, woman’s most glorious. To her the children looked with a confidence that had never been betrayed. If there was a difficulty, “Mamma” had the suggestion that would set things right. In the clear atmosphere of her counsel child-hood’s troubles disappeared and the doubts of youth were dissolved Upon her both father and children relied with an abandon that was impossible to realize until she went away.
Not only was she mother to her own family, but also to an unnumbered host of college boys and girls over the country she is remembered as the “college mother.” Of one thing they were always assured: she desired the largest and most useful life for them all. For more than one her confidence went far toward making them what they most desired to be. For many, hers was the hand that led them to know Him whom know is eternal life.
But these accomplishments and lovely traits of character have their most satisfactory explanation in her vigorous Christian faith. At the early age of eleven, at “Old Union,” the little Southern Methodist church of her home community, she gave her heart to God, and about a year later she joined this little “church in the wildwood.” This little church is situated in a cove of the Tennessee hills. Nearby runs a. mossy-banked rill along whose sinuous course lovely wild flowers bloom and with whose murmurings the song birds join. Amid these scenes she began her Christian life. In later years she lived again for a while near this little Methodist church and with her neighbors and girlhood friends worshipped. Once more she sat at the little organ and played and sang with her people those songs that meant so much to them. Again and again her voice was heard in fervent prayer and in triumphant testimonies of praise.
The church was her hobby. If she could not be found at home it was safe to guess that she was either at the church or engaged in some of its helpful ministries. To it she gave freely of her time, thought, substance and energy. She was president of the Woman’s Missionary Society, teacher of one of the Bible classes in the Sunday school and a member of the choir. No pastor ever had a more efficient or willing worker.
She was never known to decline any service that came within the range of her powers. Again and again those nearest her knew full well that she was overtaxing her strength but no word of complaint or excuse ever came from her. Like Mary of old she broke the costliest box of ointment of her life in the service of her Master. She could not save herself. If she thought at all of self it was last. Thus giving her life for His sake she saved it unto life eternal.
She was not a ‘stranger to pain. More than once she had walked the narrow valley where the shadows of the twilight land play hide-and-seek. She had tasted of life’s full cup. She had run the gamut from the sunlit summits of exultation down to the “margin of the river.” Perhaps it was this that gave such calm to her noble character,
She was glorious in her sufferings. For four long months ‘before’ her going away such onslaughts of pain as few are called upon to undergo surged through her body again and again. For it faithful physicians could find only partial and temporary relief. But fro her lips it brought no word of complaint. The deep calm of her spirit never seemed to be disturbed. To her son, with whom she talked short while before her going, she said: “Son, if I knew that it would be my lot to lie here in pain for years it would not make a particle of difference to my faith in God.” Such fortitude and such patience$ made us ashamed. She settled with pain and death and passed beyond their control long before the end came. Quietly she assured~ her sorrowing husband and children of her faith in God and prepared them for her going. So perfectly was this final service done that one could not tell which was more glorious, her living or her dying.
Her death was a triumph. Steadily and without a break her life moved from childhood to the end up a continually descending plane whose end rested at the throne of God. In her were fully vindicated all the claims of Christ and the promises of God. In her experience once more were verified the words of Wesley: “Our people die well.” Across it all may be written the words of Paul: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1923, pages 96-98, by D. B. Raulins

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