Ramona Ann Smith

June 20, 1932May 28, 2018
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Ramona Ann Smith, age 85, of Fort Wayne, Indiana passed away on Monday May 28, 2018. Ramona was born June 20, 1932 in Fort Wayne to the late Raymond and Florence (Van Drew) Eme. She worked as a homemaker and was a long time member of Calvary Presbyterian Church. She was active in the church choir and the Women's Circle, where, in 1992, she was voted Woman of the Year. She is survived by her daughter, Renee (David) Milligan of College Park, MD; granddaughters, Rachel (Michael) Canavan of Greenbelt, MD and Sarah Milligan of South Bend, IN; great grandchildren, Maebel and Harvey Canavan; nephew, Terry Hattendorf of Roanoke, IN; niece, Marcia Moran of Jarvisburg, NC, and long-term care giver, Sarah Fry of Fort Wayne, IN. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband of almost 63 years, who she met in the church choir, Richard Kenneth Smith in 2014; and her son, Richard D. Smith in 2003. A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 11:00 AM at Greenlawn Funeral Home, 6750 Covington Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804 with visitation one hour prior to the service, and a luncheon after. Burial will be in Greenlawn Memorial Park, 6600 Covington Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804. Preferred memorials may be made to Covington Manor Health and Rehabilitation Center's Activity Center.


  • Covington Manor Health and Rehabilitation Activity Center


  • Visitation Saturday, June 9, 2018
  • Memorial Service Saturday, June 9, 2018
  • Final Resting Saturday, June 9, 2018

Ramona Ann Smith

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Gerry & Kay Weesner

June 4, 2018

Renee, so sorry to hear about your Mom. Audrey Smith always spoke kindly of both your parents. Sending our love & prayers.


Ramona Smith remembered as kind and loving mother, grandmother and friend.


Four generations of family


Ramona's 85th Birthday party


Ramona and Richards wedding


50th Wedding Anniversary


Ramona was a pretty baby


Ramona at age 14


Ramona at graduation


My mother, Ramona Smith, was born in 1932. Before she could remember, she moved to Reed Street in Fort Wayne, growing up in one of those old-fashioned neighborhoods where people knew you and liked you for what you are. Down the street were Auntie Schramm married to Mart (an Irish policeman) and their son Jimmie. Jimmie had a birth injury, and I only knew him as a severely limited adult. However, the street stories always included Jimmie as a young boy yelling for ‘Moh-nieeee’. She was his buddy and friend. Thus started her career as a caregiver. Her parents were a little older, a post WWI soldier and an experienced nurse. She only knew one of her grandparents, Grandma Eme, described as short, chubby and loving (and who she strived to emulate)…but she was very close to Aunt Hazel, her mother’s older sister. She said that summer trips to visit Aunt Hazel in Urbana, Ohio were like going to visit your grandma.

As did everyone on Reed Street, she went to elementary school at John Irwin followed by Junior High at James Smart, and finished at South Side, where she was in the National Honor Society. As school progressed, she had a group of girl friends that built at each step. Some of them knew her since she was five years old. Some were added in Junior High and High School. Some are here today. She also sustained long term friendships from those trips to Ohio, and corresponded often with a friend from there, who was one of her bridesmaids.

As a kid, she was in a Civic Theatre play, which was a source of great pride (although a few years ago, she laughed, and admitted to me that she had forgotten her lines). She built on that experience in her role as a caregiver---supporting my brother in his acting career. She studied at IUPU Extension for one year before she married, and, from that experience, carried a special appreciation for the English language.

She was active in the Calvary Presbyterian Church. Through the years, she participated in Bible school, playing piano, and was in the choir into her early 70s. Throughout her life, she was in the ladies circle, and in 1992 was named Woman of the year. She met my dad, Richard, at Calvary’s predecessor, the little white Anthony Wayne church. When she was 18, he asked to walk her home from choir practice. They were married a year later, and the marriage lasted for almost 63 years. Of the couple she was the quieter one. My cousin’s wife described her as special, in that…its really something when you can stay married for so long to a colorful person like Richard.

When she was 20, I was born. My brother Richard Denton, was born two years later. She was a good caregiver and dependable back-up. I think I never learned to get organized, because I knew if I forgot something and phoned home, she would bring it up to the school. Her care giving ways stuck with her to the end. She always wanted to hear about my activities and would say to me, “I don’t understand what you do, but I want you to know that I’m very proud of you.”
The years went by in meaningful small ways. She was a good neighbor on Cornell Circle, participating in activities.

She stayed in touch with her girlfriends from school, and always told their stories after get-togethers---so much so that I feel like they are all my friends. She cared for elderly relatives and friends: Aunt Hazel, Grandma Smith, and Mrs. Mitch, my Christian Ed grandma from church. She went to the hairdressers every week—and she always found special hairdressers who had stories to tell. These activities were the infrastructure of her life, where she picked up interesting ideas and items to share and talk about.

During her last decade she was intimately connected with care giving. My dad had a stroke in 2008 and for six years she visited, did activities, and cared for him at Covington Manor; helped by a caring staff and Sarah Fry, my dad’s cousin. A few months after dad’s death, her physical health collapsed, and after a lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation, she also resided at Covington. Our friend, Elaine Cowen, visited them at Covington weekly for ten years. At Covington, my mom persevered and often thrived there. The take-away message is how important staff, and especially activities staff are to their elderly clients. As mom’s caregiver said, “She always seems much better when she’s playing BINGO.”

My older daughter Rachel has a 2 1/2 week old baby at home in Maryland, so can’t be here today. My mom was thrilled with this great-grand-baby, and face-timed with Rachel and him twice two weeks ago on Memorial Day weekend.

I’ll end with a few thoughts that Rachel helped craft for me to say about mom:
What are the things we hold on to from our mothers? When they are no longer here, what will have been imparted and what will fade? My mother, Ramona Smith was as complex as she was sweet. After she died, neighbors made a point of telling me how kind she was. And this was not lip service, many will remember her as a gracious hostess, a thoughtful gift giver, a warm genuine person who carefully listened to the details of the lives around her…always interested and always earnest.

When my dad was alive, he knew how to make her laugh and some will still remember the purity of that laugh. She did little for show, very little was contrived. It wasn’t a hardy laugh; but a soft chuckle. She laughed along, always more than willing to be in the middle of the humor. Her laughter was present particularly during card games with her grandchildren.
On the other end, she was best in crisis; surprisingly so, as she was sometimes intimidated by smaller ventures. She handled many painful losses with grace; the sudden loss of my brother in the middle of his life; the very different, much slower, loss of my father; and the recent loss of her only sister, Virginia Hattendorf.

Party planning could send her into a frenzy, but coping with the larger misfortunes and difficult passes revealed the subtleties of her strengths.

I spent a lot of time talking to my mom. Recently, we spoke over the phone several times each day and indeed the urge to pick up my phone to catch her before bed is a habit that has not diminished. I can tell you that she never overlooked anyone. In phone conversations, she shared stories of people she knew well and also those who she’d spoken with only in passing. She never forgot a single person. She would tell me about someone’s grandchild’s nephew’s cousin’s wedding as often as she might ask me about a friend of mine I mentioned once who she’d never even met in person. She cared equally about each story, she was not selective; just interested.

Maybe I know her best of the people that are left to tell about her. I certainly had many insights into her daily routines. But in the question of what we will remember, what I have to offer you that I will hold on to...that her grandchildren Rachel and Sarah might be likely to say to each other about her...and what Maebel and Harvey, who will have been too young to remember themselves; might be told about their Great Grandma more easily noted in the following list than it is described as a concept:
1. She did not tie knots in the end of her thread, she sewed many things that did not remain stitched, interpret this as a metaphor if you’d like
2. She pronounced gums (the ones in your mouth) “gooms”. Rachel was always tickled by this. I wonder if this is an old-fashioned pronunciation, but I never
heard it from anyone else.
3. Her father was nicknamed “mouse” in the military, his induction papers listed his height as 5 foot 4…diminutive stature that she and I inherited.
4. I got my good appetite and my bad hair from her (I once went to a beauty salon in Indiana to get a perm. They lifted my hair, and said to me “you must be
Ramona Smith’s daughter”).
5. My dad and she shared the same birthday (although eight years apart), June 20th.
6. She was a great gardener and particularly good at making flowers grow.
7. Like all Hoosiers, she always knew who won the college basketball games.
8. She made a mean peanut butter blossom cookie in her day.
9. Her signature, handwriting, and English grammar were impeccable.

Maybe these items are trivial, maybe they are heirlooms, maybe they ground us, appease our loss. Maybe they won’t be all that we remember, only a small part; or maybe they won’t be what we remember at all. What our mothers teach us about the world (what they leave their children, and their grandchildren, and, if we are ever so lucky, their great grandchildren) is a sense that whether or not we are ever able to describe it properly, it was special and we are special. All generations of us, in a way that no one will ever quite exactly reproduce in the same way again, are treasured. The impression of that, no matter how impossible to articulate, or to list, is a powerful feeling. In memory and in our bones; it’s a powerful gift that mothers, my mother, leaves behind.
Renee Milligan, June 9, 2018.