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McGilley State Line Chapel

12301 State Line Road, Kansas City, MO

OBITUARY

Janis Smith

January 5, 1933February 5, 2020
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Janis Smith, 87, Overland Park, Kansas, adored wife of Robert E. “Bob” Smith (deceased), passed away Wednesday February 5, 2020.

Janis was born January 5, 1933 in the heart of the Dustbowl – Garden City, Kansas – to the Finney County Agricultural Agent Lawrence Edward “Ed” Crawford and Katherine Chappell Crawford. Her early childhood was spent in Garden City, Tuttle Creek, and Pratt, Kansas before returning to her father’s hometown and family farm in Stafford, Kansas in 1940. She was no ordinary farm girl. Janis was completely bedridden for a year, missing second grade, with rheumatic fever. During this period her love of good books took root and she became a lifelong avid reader. Janis was a beautiful homecoming queen but fiercely intelligent – winning the Kansas state (without size classifications in those days) debate championship her senior year. She graduated from Stafford High School in 1951 and went to her parents’ alma mater, Kansas State College (now University), where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi. She was set up on a blind date with a freshman football star from Topeka Hayden High, Bob Smith, in her first weeks of college. Through subsequent, convenient self-placement around campus, she kept running into Bob who became smitten with her. They dated until they married in 1955.

After two and a half years at Kansas State, Janis was accepted into the prestigious nursing school program at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. She learned to ride the train to Manhattan to watch Bob play football, and Bob would stay with relatives when he came in to see Janis. Janis graduated with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1956. In her five-year degree, Janis received all A’s and only one B – in home economics. She always pointed this out with great humor because she chose raising a family over a nursing career.

Janis was Bob’s rock through his life: a football star’s girlfriend, an Air Force pilot’s wife, a business man’s wife, the best-mother-in-the world to their children, the best-grandmother-in-the-world to their grandchildren, and an Al-Anon wife. Bob passed away in May 2019 and was given tremendous tribute in all his communities: the Catholic Church, the automobile world, and (most importantly) a 12-Step recovery community with 49 years of continuous sobriety. None of that – absolutely none of that – happened without Janis.

Janis was also the rock for her three surviving children (twins John and Thomas died shortly after birth in 1963). Her three children could not be more different than three sides of a triangle. But in the middle – equidistant to each – was Janis who enveloped all three with the love that kept the family bound together. The circle inside and outside a triangle is the symbol of Alcoholics Anonymous – an apt metaphor for this amazing woman whose all three children followed their father into the Recovery Community.

Janis was active in raising all five of her older grandchildren and, as she aged, she was active in loving her two great grandchildren and yet another grandchild. To them she was “Nanny.” The youngest children will not remember her well – but her legacy will fill their souls through stories from her children and her older grandchildren.

When you look up “grace” in the dictionary you will see a photograph of Janis Smith. Her role was simple, but certainly not easy: keep the family together at all costs, support the smallest to the largest endeavors of the family members, and pick up the pieces when things began to crumble. Janis was recently predeceased by her husband of 64 years Bob (sometimes lovingly referred to as Bobby) and her sister Judith Barber. Janis is survived by her children Shannon McNeely, Tamara Bryant and David Smith; her grandchildren Heather Lenahan (Mark), Jason Bryant (Faith), Jeremy Bryant (Andrea), Aaron McNeely (Riana), David “Burke” Smith, Katherine Smith, and Everett Smith; and her great grandchildren Carter McNeely and Parker Lenahan.

Janis knew, and Bob always reminded her, that God loved her passionately and that “together God and Janis could do more good than either God or Janis could do alone.” Donations to First Call Kansas City (firstcallkc.org/donate) would be welcomed in lieu of flowers. Please share a memory of Janis at www.mcgilleystatelinechapel.com.

Services

  • Visitation Saturday, February 15, 2020
  • Celebration of Life Saturday, February 15, 2020
  • Committal Service Saturday, February 15, 2020

Memories

Janis Smith

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Mark Noller

February 14, 2020

I'm so sorry to hear of Janis's passing. She was a wonderful lady and was also so welcoming to me when I frequently visited her home when I was in college with David. She was always smiling and had a kind word for everyone. I'll keep Janis and the family in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you have a wonderful celebration of her life, and I'm sorry I can't be there to celebrate with you.

Mark Noller

Jeremy Bryant

February 11, 2020

Jeremy Bryant

February 11, 2020

Jeremy Bryant

February 11, 2020

Jeremy Bryant

February 11, 2020

Jeremy Bryant

February 11, 2020

Jeremy Bryant

February 11, 2020

Jeremy Bryant

February 11, 2020

Jeremy Bryant

February 10, 2020

Jeremy Bryant

February 10, 2020

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
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