Jurnine Juliette Smithson
February 4, 1948 – June 22, 2020
Jurnine Juliette Smithson was an only child of Filipino descent born February 4, 1948 to Josephine Cecilia Lazo and Ernesto L. Lazo in Imperial Valley, California. They moved to San Diego in the 50’s and bought their brand new home in San Carlos, a subsidy of San Diego. One of the few minorities to attend Our Lady of Grace then moved onto Our Lady of Peace all girls high school on scholarship. She was a member of the volleyball team, cheer team, and an academic leader. She was a devout Catholic and made lifelong sisters while attending her schools.
She is survived by her husband of 52 years Frederick Roy Smithson, her loyal companion/protector Lady; her daughters Micheline Grimm, husband John Grimm, Grandchildren Samantha Grimm, Dominick Grimm, Anthony Grimm and Gianni Grimm; Monique Casanova, husband Robert Casanova, Sarge her foot warmer and crumb catcher.
She met “Roy” at Parkway Bowl that was also a popular dance hall in the 1960’s. He caught her eye because he had danced as legendary as James Brown. He could even do the splits! They danced for 50+ more years.
Jurnine’s career started at the El Cajon Police Department then onto San Diego State University in the late 70’s. She started at Admissions & Records then on to Advising. Scoring in the advanced area of an IQ test, she later became the Head Administrative Assistant for the School of Speech Communication. She loved art, fitness, and fashion. She always wanted to be “up to date” in her wardrobe and even took part in a fashion show on campus with her daughters.
At the age of 32, she decided to become a certified Fitness Instructor. Employed by Family Fitness Centers, The Woman’s Club, YMCA, Shirley Sports Center (UCSD), and SDSU Adult Recreation Center (ARC) challenging colleagues in her notable Spin Classes. She was known as “Legs,” on the SDSU campus. She emulated the infamous Tina Turner. She competed in fitness classes, ran a marathon and several half marathons, and green belted in Tang Soo Do, a martial art of Korean Karate.
She retired from SDSU after 25 years. She then moved to Menifee, California to her brand new home into a 55 or better gated community. Her youthful appearance tended to be a reoccurring theme, where she was often mistaken for being married to an older husband. She made her return to teach classes inside her community and a local LA Fitness because her 4-5 mile walks became too regular for her. She would often start her mornings with, “I walked gate to gate.” The club eventually asked her to retire as she was “Too challenging for the older folks.” She participated in chair volleyball and would often say “BORING” because it was not competitive enough for her.
In her late 50’s she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Underwent a mastectomy and powered through. She kept on walking, exercising and dancing throughout the cancer determined to fight.
In her 60’s she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/Dementia but that never kept her down. Roy would take her to many social functions at the community club and she would love to dance all night. She continued to walk and ride her bike and enjoy the fitness gym. She continued to dance whenever music was present. It didn’t matter where it was…a grocery store, a Rubio’s bathroom, a family function or just simply in the car. Riding in the car became her favorite thing and she was VERY aware of other drivers. She would make comments as if other drivers could hear her as most of us do.
May 1, 2018 she suffered from a major stroke caused by Vascular Dementia paralyzing the right side of her body, but because of her physical health and competitive nature, she decided that it was not going to keep her down. With assistance got up and walked just several days later. She continued therapy and regained most of her mobility. The therapists could not believe what was happening and said, “Never in our careers have we seen anyone come out of this so quick!” They said her muscle memory and fitness were a major contribution to her incredible recovery.
In 2018, Jurnine moved back to her childhood neighborhood and then back into her childhood home in 2019 with her husband “Roy Boy” to be closer to their family. Her youngest daughter Monique and son in law Bobby along with grandson Dominick built an Accessory Dwelling Unit or ADU on the property to help take care of her. They enjoyed their time with her up until the night before she passed. She laughed and giggled and danced of course.
June 22, 2020 Jurnine took her last breath in the home she grew up in.
A private ceremony will take place on June 30th at the request of her grandchildren and sons-in-law so they can see the Dancing Queen one last time.
If you would like to honor our beautiful mother please crank up some Motown music and dance to your heart’s content!
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Jurnine Juliette Smithson
July 1, 2020
This is us in Oregon. We met in Portland when we were visiting family.
I remember you as sweet, funny and oh so feisty. Must be that Lazo blood.
I also remember how much you loved your family. Your grandsons, your daughters and son in laws, and your husband Roy. I can hear all the stories you would tell us whenever we were together.
Jurnine, we love you and will miss you greatly.
Lauren, Marc, Maxwell and Myles
July 1, 2020
Mama J and I used to sit next to each other at the Grimm/Smithson family get togethers and gab. She always made me feel like part of the family and would call me one of her many “daughters”.
My husband John liked to tease her. He only teases people he likes a lot. Remember the boxes of Tic Tacs he gave her for her birthday one year? So she could always have “lunch”.
Such a loving, fun, and feisty woman! We will miss her.
Laura Knight Gentry
July 1, 2020
Jurnine was our spunky admin at SDSU. She encouraged us to do our best and challenged us to the occasional push-up competition and other fun fit things in the office :-) She was always encouraging and loving. I’m sure she’s already dancing. Love and peace to her family. She will always have a special place in my heart.
June 30, 2020
Peace and love to Jurnine and her wonderful family. I met her at SDSU and in a single advisory meeting, she helped me graduate. To this day I credit her with immensely helping me achieve my degree and career. Several years later, I discovered Jurnine was aunty to my then- girlfriend/now-wife and we had fun figuring out how we already knew each other. I'm so grateful and honored to have known her. She is one of a kind. With deepest love and respect, Aloha Jurnine.
June 30, 2020
I am so sorry for your loss... I remember all getting together at Tom and Maxine's house for Christmas eve... those are great memories that I will hold onto forever.
Sending love to you all.
May she rest in peace.🙏💗😪
June 30, 2020
Mama J. I’m so happy that you were in my life via Sal at SDSU. As a strong Filipina, I loved that we shared our culture and passion for education. You were my role model and in so many ways, you still are. Always there to give me advice, words of encouragement, and straight talk, I am forever grateful to have worked for you and continue our friendship years later.
Micheline and Monique, your mom loved sharing stories about you two. The rushes to dance class, cooking Filipino food, the stories about her grandkids, she just gushed about all of you. She loved showing me the latest photos of the grandkids and giving me an update on the family.
At the SOC, she was the best boss. Guiding and helping versus criticizing me. Giving me a hug every time. She could just tell when I needed some words of advice. I would return the favor when she had rough days.
I’m thankful to have her as one of my first strong Filipina role models. She was always looking after me even after I stopped working in the office for her. Thank you for sharing her life with us.
May she rest in power and light.
June 29, 2020
I high school, I was the only one shorter than Jurnine. I lived going over to her house for her mothers Filipino food. We had a great time on our reunion cruise.
God Bless her. See you later, my sister.