MRS. R. E. SMITH
March 2, 1883-August 2, 1968
Lillian Gibbs Smith was born in Natchez, Mississippi March 2, 1883, daughter of John E. and Rosalie Dicks Gibbs; one of ten children. In 1895 her family moved to Monroe, Louisiana. She was educated in the public schools there and later did her college work at Louisiana State Normal, now Northwestern, at Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Following graduation Mrs. Smith taught school in the state system until she married Dr. J. M. Henry, a member of the Louisiana Annual Conference, in 1907. To them were born two children: James Henry, Jr., deceased in 1965; and Margaret, now Mrs. Glenn Walker.
After thirteen years of fruitful service together, Dr. Henry passed away following a short illness, while pastor of Trinity Methodist Church.
In 1926 she married Dr. R. E. Smith, head of the Bible Department at Centenary College, leaving her position as children’s worker with the General Board of Education, Nashville, Tennessee.
Evaluating the life of a Christian like Mrs. Smith one must, because of lack of space, leave unsaid many things of importance, but three characteristics must be given consideration:
First, she was a home-maker. She loved the intimacy of the family, the fellowship, the camaraderie, the intellectual stimulus of the family circle. Here friends and loved ones spent many hours around the festive table and in the living room, engaged in high and stimulating conversation. These were wholesome and refreshing hours.
Second, she was interested in many things. Since she was 16 years of age she taught in the church school. In Ruston she had a large Tech Class of students. In Shreveport she worked with the Intermediates, the Young People, the Young Adults, and for a great many years taught The Foster-Gatewood Class. She often substituted for Dr. Smith when he was preaching and lecturing out of the city. She held honorary life membership in the WSCS, United Church Women, Delta Kappa Gamma, the YWCA, and was one of the outstanding spiritual leaders of the area. Other projects that claimed her attention were: the cause of temperance, a recreational center for Stoner Hill, Goodwill Industries, exceptional children, music, art, and the literary clubs. Her concern was as wide as humanity.
Third, her unfailing faith. She loved people and wanted to help in every way possible, especially those who were deprived or depraved. She sought the good behind the false faces in the crowds. She deplored hypocrisy and sham.
Her faith in great causes kept life fresh and interesting. She believed in the rightness of things—truth, though delayed by evil, would ultimately prevail.
In all of life’s changes, troubles, sorrows, and heartaches, Lillian Smith never wavered in her allegiance to Christ. He was her comfort, her strength, her joy, her peace, and her assurance of the better life to come. After a long illness she joined the church triumphant on August 2, 1968. Her passing was like the closing of a beautiful symphony. She held this motto before each day for inspiration and power:
“Every morning lean thy arms awhile upon
the window sill of heaven and gaze upon the
Lord. Then with the vision in thy heart, turn
strong to meet the day.”
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1969; p. 233 By B. C. Taylor