Eulogy for GrandmotherTheresa Smith was born on December 3, 1925 in Materson, NJ. She died in Williamsville on March 2, 2005, at age 80. Theresa Smith was great grandmother of one, grandmother of five of us, mother of three, sibling of three sisters and two brothers, and wife to one great man, my grandfather, Ron Smith.
It’s hard for me to reflect upon my grandmother’s life because I was part of it for a little less than half its span. A lot of ideas went through my head at a million miles an hour, few of them stuck with me. One thought I had after my uncle asked me to consider saying a few words was that it was hard to understand my grandmother without also knowing my grandfather.
My grandmother and grandfather got married in 1938. They spent a lot of their early married life in the Morristown, NJ area where my grandfather was a schoolteacher and later a principal. He earned his doctorate in education during that time, which ultimately allowed him to become a professor at Glassboro State College in Southern New Jersey. They moved to Glassboro in the late 1950s with their children, Sharon and Dennis. This was my grandparent’s home until around the time my grandfather died in 1982.
During this period, my grandmother managed to have a 20-year career as an elementary school teacher and a remedial reading teacher at the elementary and middle school levels. I think the reason that she taught at that time was because she was committed to helping the community, and we would continue to see this trait in her when she volunteered at hospitals in North Jersey and in this area, later in life.
My grandfather was the kind of man who loved my grandmother and supported her in every way, including her career. He was well known in New Jersey and probably throughout the country as a leader of the New Jersey Education Association and the New Jersey Retired Educators’ Association. He wrote several books on educational practice and educational law in the State of New Jersey.
My grandparents had a great life together. They traveled extensively, particularly after they retired. They visited their children and grandchildren often, and were very involved in our lives and what mattered to us.
It was a tremendous shock to all of us when my grandfather passed away in 1982.