Ellis Funeral Home


LaJuana Faye Smart Rathjen

March 25, 1931April 9, 2021

LaJuana Smart Rathjen, long-time resident of Midland (63 yrs), passed away peacefully on Friday April 9, 2021 with her loving twin daughters at her side. Born March 25, 1931 in Granite, Oklahoma to Amos and OdaLee Smart. LaJuana grew up in Canadian, TX where in high school she met the love of her life, David H. Rathjen. Both graduated from Canadian High School and then attended Texas Technological College in Lubbock. They were married in 1952 in Miami, FL as David was leaving for a Korean War Air Force assignment in Chateauroux, France. LaJuana graduated from Texas Tech with BA in Commercial Teaching, High Honors. After returning from France she returned to school and earned her Teacher Certification, then her Master Degree in Education from UTPB and retired from teaching after 30 years. She loved working with young minds and insisted on excellence from her students. She constantly displayed the example of goodness, kindness and passion for all facets of life. She was a wonderful teacher and she loved her students. LaJuana and David were in France 4 years and started their family there. Linda and Brenda were born on an Air Force base and were always described as "double pleasure". The living and medical arrangements were quite different and challenging in a foreign country during a time of war with twin babies, but LaJuana and David were always so grateful for everything wonderful along with all the challenges. LaJuana and David's favorite place was their Lincoln log cabin the family literally built in Cloudcroft, NM in 1977. It was a work of love, history, and a perpetual place of memories for the family to enjoy and for generations to come. An avid reader and sponge of knowledge, she and David traveled the world with fellow Geologists and Teachers on annual trips. Her stories, adventures, and collections were a lesson in themselves, and we were so excited to hear them once they returned. The Rathjen Family was one of the Founders for the City of Midland Swim Team, having 4 children to swim, an organized time-card secretary (LaJuana!) and a great starter with an incredibly loud start gun (David!) to represent the Team. They were an integral piece of the 1968 recruiting committee to get Australian Olympic Swim Coach Terry Gathercole to come to Midland. It was fun times for all in the city of Midland. LaJuana loved her friends, and maintained and worked passionately at keeping in touch and doing things with them, some as far back as kindergarten times. She just loved all people in general as there was no stranger to her when she went places. She loved to entertain and have parties with her bridge, collegiate, book club, professional and neighborhood groups, always striving for interesting themes to make the gathering fun and memorable. She was a Girl Scout Leader, docent at the Petroleum Museum, member of Daughters of the American Revolution and Daughters of the Texas Revolution of which she was so proud. LaJuana loved all things old, natural and handmade, recognizing the amount of time and effort that went into the making of it. She had and loved her extensive collections of American Indian artifacts and art, turquoise, fossils, shells, turtles, elephants, and the treasures she would bring back from her trips. LaJuana always said "l just love my life. It was just what I ordered"! Preceding her in death is her loving husband, David H. Rathjen, her sons John Paul Rathjen and James David (JD) Rathjen, her sister Dorothy Smart Byrd. Surviving family is her brother Mark Smart and wife Karen in Lubbock, and daughters Brenda Rathjen and Linda Rathjen both in Midland. Grandchildren Will Washer/wife Shanna (Austin), John Washer/wife Scelena (Magnolia) TerryLind Shamblin/husband Brandon (New Braunfels), Christopher West (Houston), Jamie West Florida/husband Michael (Houston) and 10 great grandchildren. The family wishes to thank the staff at Legacy Ranch Memory Care and Hospice Midland for their exceptional, unconditional care. 2020 was a very difficult year for the World, and they were there when no one else could be. A private family service will be held to celebrate and remember LaJuana's life. If one wishes to gift in her honor, please remember the Petroleum Museum, COM Swim Team, Hospice Midland or any charity you would like to help. "Always be kind and be sweet" — something so often said by LaJuana. She will be missed beyond words.


  • Private Visitation

    Friday, April 16, 2021

  • Graveside Service

    Friday, April 16, 2021


LaJuana Faye Smart Rathjen

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Shirley Perkins

July 28, 2021

I just found LaJuana’s obituary. I am so sad for all of you. LaJuana was just always there in our lives as her teacher cohorts. We were together as the “Bonham Bunch” through thick and thin. I looked to her as the bearer of all things good…and the only “French” friend! She was so proud of all of her family!