The world has lost a beautiful, amazing woman, and heaven has gained another angel – our Mom. Jenne Smith was born in Los Angeles, California on December 19, 1923 to Rudie and Edna Uppenkamp. She died on December 21, 2011 in Montecito, two days after a joyous family celebration of her 88th birthday.
Mom grew up in Los Angeles and Riverside with her older sister and best friend Gladys, and they continued to share a close bond throughout their lives. While attending a nursing program at UC Berkeley, she met a handsome sailor named Thomas Joseph Smith at a USO dance. They were married four months later on October 17, 1945 and were together nearly 65 years until Dad’s death in 2010. They moved to Carpinteria in 1958 to raise their growing family, where Dad was the co-owner and pharmacist at Mill’s Drugstore for many years. In 1968, while pregnant with their last child, Mom returned to nursing school in Santa Barbara. She worked as a nurse in several hospitals, retiring after 15 years at Atascadero State Hospital.
Mom’s career was devoted to helping others, and she lived her life in the same way. She was very active with her church through the Altar Society and Legion of Mary, and was always available to help others. She was unconditional in her love, and taught all of her kids to be kind, inclusive, accepting, and generous through her example. There was always room for a few more people at the dinner table.
Mom loved being with her family, and she never missed a game or activity that her many children, and later grandchildren, were involved in. She also loved nature, especially the ocean, and would marvel in appreciation at the sight of a hummingbird or a hillside covered in wildflowers. At age 50, Mom was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy and told she would probably be in a wheelchair within a few years. Instead, her focus and determination enabled her to remain active for the next 30 years, including parasailing in Mexico at nearly 70 years old and swimming at the Montecito YMCA into her 80’s. She never complained and always had a positive outlook, even after suffering several strokes in the past couple of years. Above all else, Mom’s unwavering faith in God was a mainstay throughout her life. She had an inner peace that radiated through her serene smile. She was an inspiration to many people, and will continue to be loved, honored, and appreciated by all of us. Mom’s family was her greatest treasure, and the love and closeness we have as a family will be her enduring legacy.
She is survived by her children Storm (Kathleen) Smith of Hawaii, Teresa Smith (Donald Rink) of Santa Barbara, Michele (Harry) Van Wingerden of Carpinteria, Duana (Marty) Dickman of Texas, Shannon (Larry) Chavez of Lompoc, Dion (Elizabeth) Smith of Carpinteria, Carrie (Stanley) Sergeant of Hawaii, Blaise (Nancy) Smith of Templeton, Lynelle (Fred) Nicholson of San Diego, Paul (Lynn) Wagner of Alabama, and honorary son Jonbi “Dibs” (Binna) Gudmundsson of Prague, Czech Republic, as well as 31 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and two more on the way. She was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband Tommy and sister Gladys, and infant daughter Erin Clare.
Viewing and rosary will be held at St. Joseph’s Church in Carpinteria on Thursday, December 29th at 7:00pm. A Mass of Christian burial will be at the Church on Friday, December 30th at 11:00am, followed by graveside services at Carpinteria Cemetery.
Thanks to Assisted Care Hospice for their excellent care, and to all those who cared for Mom in the last two years of her life. Remember our Mom, as we will, with her own words: “Joy defines my life. There have been ups and downs, but joy is my most loyal and constant companion, residing within and partaking in my every thought.”