Mercedes Duncan Smith
COLUMBIA — Among other things, Mercedes Duncan Smith loved turtles.
She even wrote a children’s book about turtles after her husband died, which she copied and gave to her two granddaughters.
Mrs. Smith of Columbia died Thursday, June 16, 2011. She was 98.
She was born Oct. 24, 1912, in Andrew County to John C. and Mollie (Spicer) Duncan.
Mrs. Smith also loved plants, flowers and trees, as well as jade. She liked National Geographic and preferred to read rather than watch television.
She enjoyed taking float trips, and she loved birds, which she would watch through her binoculars.
“She used to quilt a lot," her granddaughter Jayne Kempf said. “I have quilts made out of ties and Sunday dresses that … Mercedes and my grandfather, Jack, wore. ... She cut these things out and made quilts. And they’re beautiful.”
“She sewed a lot and made things that were unique.” Kempf said. “She was a unique person.”
Mrs. Smith was also a very organized person, a trait evident in a quilting project she left unfinished.
“She left the box with a picture of the quilts and all of my grandfather’s ties with the batting to start the project.” Kempf said, “She was that organized.”
During her life she became knowledgeable about a variety of topics, Kempf said, including nursing, conservation of water and streams, and her Christian faith.
Mrs. Smith graduated in 1930 from Fillmore Consolidated High School, and in 1933 from Missouri Methodist Hospital School of Nursing.
She graduated in 1943 from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree and a certificate in Public Health Nursing.
Mrs. Smith worked in Public Health Nursing in Indiana and Kansas City. She was also supervisor of Public Health Nursing in Jackson County.
On Sept. 2, 1951, Mrs. Smith married Jack Kermit Smith. Mrs. Smith lived a comfortable life with her husband.
“Papa gave her a nice ride through life,” Kempf said. “She was a very happy woman, and it was nice to know she was so well taken care of.”
From 1952 to 1960, Mrs. Smith taught Public Health Nursing at the University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing in Columbia, in the same hospital where she died. She retired from nursing in 1960.
“She always did take care of people and did a very good job,” Kempf said.
Kempf remembered visiting Mrs. Smith at her home on North Drive in Jefferson City.
“I can remember taking a train ride from Marshall to Jeff City to her house for a vacation,” Kempf said. She was about 8 or 9 years old and brought a friend along. They stayed with Mrs. Smith for five days.
Kempf said when she would go to her grandmother’s house, she would get a taste of city life. She liked to visit Mrs. Smith’s neighbors and pet their animals.
Mrs. Smith is survived by two daughters, Doris Wyrsch and Jean Benson; two granddaughters, Sally Malan and her husband, Robert, of Marshall, and Jayne Kempf and her husband, Greg, of Marshall; and several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
Her husband, Jack Kermit Smith, and brother, John Lowell Duncan, died earlier.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, June 20, 2011, at Epple Chapel at Lenoir Woods, 3710 Lenoir St. in Columbia.
Memorial contributions may be made to Columbia Area Older Adult Ministry, 101 N. Tenth St., Columbia, MO, 65201.