As her son Michael Smith cleverly said: we could keep this simple and condense to: ‘She was a musician, dancer, pilot, teacher, golfer, but she didn’t swim.’ However we have a story to share with you.
After golfing in 15 different countries a wonderful woman leaves all her golf shoes and us behind to play on another course. Beatrice Rae Smith passed comfortably to God on Saturday morning, November 19, 2016 at the age of 91 after a brief stay at Agrace Hospice in Madison.
Bette lived life to the fullest touching many hearts along the way. She was born in Milwaukee to A.G. and Ellen Neumann. She was part of a very musical family with sisters Marilyn, Joyce, and Doris. The violin was her instrument of choice, having mastered it and played in the All City Junior and Senior Orchestra, Solomon Juneau High School, Milwaukee. Rumor is that the 4 girls also were Tap dancers.
Bette graduated from Whitewater with a business degree, taught at Alma Center, Wisconsin High School, spending her summers traveling to Iowa City pursuing a Master’s degree in Meteorology. She did love her clouds and was predicting the weather even in her last days.
In 1941 Bette started flying lessons at Ozaukee airport and 2 years later had her pilot’s license-flying a solo Curtiss Wright plane. She was one of the first woman to fly into Florida’s EAA.
Bette then married David R. Smith in 1949. They were the Fay R. Smith & Company after David’s father and grandfather with a history of being a prideful jewelry business in New London for over 100 years. The couple lived on Wyman Street raising 3 little dears until retiring in 1989-when they built a winter home on Burnt Pine Golf Course, Sandestin, Florida.
Bette was a seasoned boater with David and the family. Much time was spent on the water of Lake Michigan, Lake Winnebago, and the Mississippi River. Though she could never swim she was comforted that her children could and would save her if need be.
Church was a very important part of Bette’s life where ever she was living. She was a director of the Children’s Choir at the First Congregational Church in New London. Golf was also important to her and she served as Northern Division Team Play Director and President of the Women’s Northeastern Golf Association.
Bette was a bright light in the world and devoted to her family. Her life was rich, joyful, and generous. She is predeceased by her husband of nearly 60 years David and many many dear friends.
Bette will be remembered and missed by her children: Michael Smith (wife Rita), Jennifer (husband Robert Fass), and Debora (husband Terry Kortbein), by her Grandchildren: Adam Smith, Matty Smith (wife Megan) and Marissa (husband Kyle Leppert), her very special Great Grandchildren: Halowe Smith, Waylon and Cal Leppert, and Sister-in law Pamela Smith.
A Celebration of her life will be held in the Spring and any Memorial contributions may be sent to: Agrace Hospice, 5395 East Cheryl Parkway, Fitchburg, WI 53711 or First Congregational Untied Church 110 East Hancock, New London, WI 54961.