Jerome Wayne Smith

November 3, 1920June 9, 2019

Jerome Wayne Smith, (November 3, 1920-June 9, 2019) was born in Mt. Olive, MS and died at home in Jackson surrounded by his loving family. Raised in Noxapater, MS., he was the second of five children born to Nannie and Ennis Smith. He was a standout athlete earning a basketball scholarship to Wood Jr. College. After Pearl Harbor, he registered for a glider pilot training program and was selected for a potential European invasion.

Following WWII, Jerome enrolled at Ole Miss under the GI Bill and graduated with a degree in education. Jerome had met and married Willa Jean Rutledge (Tupelo), and they lived in GI housing along with her daughter, Jean Allen, whose father had died in the war.

Following graduation from Ole Miss in 1948, he taught and coached at Louisville Public Schools. Jean and Jerome had three girls and Jerome adopted Jean. In 1952, Jerome earned his Masters of Science in Educational Administration & Counseling from Ole Miss. The family moved to Jackson in 1952 where he was a guidance counselor at Bailey Junior High. He served as Principal at Bradley Elementary and Green Elementary, and he was selected as the first principal of Callaway High for 14 years.

Following Callaway, he was selected as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Professional Educators (MPE), and the group was successful in working with the Legislature and Governor in passing mandatory five-day sick leave and the first paid health insurance for teachers. Following 10 years at MPE, Governor Kirk Fordice appointed Jerome to be his Education Advisor and Jerome worked with the Governor and the Legislature in initiating the National Board Certified Teacher Program, which awards a $6,000 annual stipend to those who complete the program. Mississippi is one of the nation’s leaders in this program. Before retiring in 2010, he worked 53 years.

In 1996, while working for the Governor, he met Pamela Meyer who worked with the Institutions of Higher Learning having come here from Illinois when her boss, Dr. Tom Layzell, was appointed Commissioner. They were married on May 29, 1999, and they were blessed with 20 years together.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Willa Jean Rutledge, and they had nearly 50 years of marriage. His grandson, Patrick Walton Vaughan, Jerome’s parents also preceded him in death as well as sisters: Lois Cournoyer (Joseph); Emma Jean Gipson (Norman); and brother, Louis Hughes Smith (Bessie).

Jerome is survived by his wife, Pamela; his daughters: Jean Vaughan Smith, Susan Pratt (Hunter), Nancy Smith all from the Jackson area and Janet Fanning (Herb) from Atlanta. Survivors also include grandchildren: Ashley Vaughan of Jackson, Bradley Pratt of Atlanta (Lelia), McCharen Johnson (Andrew) of Atlanta; Wes, Court and Claire Fanning of Atlanta as well as three great grandchildren: Cole, Abby, and Betty Pratt of Atlanta.

He is also survived by his sister, Maudine Nolen (Louisville) and many nephews and nieces who were very dear to him.

Among his many recognitions, Jerome has been honored as President of the High School Counselors’ Association, State Association of Elementary Principals, the State Association of High School Principals, and was recognized for his leadership and service by the MS Gifted Teachers, the Congress of Parents & Teachers, and the MPE. He has also served several terms on the Ole Miss School of Education Alumni Board. In 2015, he was named to be in the inaugural class from the Ole Miss School of Education’s Hall of Fame.

Jerome was a charter member and chair of the Deacons of Ridgecrest Baptist Church and the North Side Rotary where he was a Paul Harris Fellow and member for 39 years. He was a Sunday School teacher at Ridgecrest and Colonial Heights Baptist Church. In 2006, Jerome and Pam joined Christ United Methodist Church and were members of the incredible New Yorker’s Sunday School class taught by York Craig who is an outstanding teacher. Church was always a priority in Jerome’s life.

Jerome’s hobbies included hunting, gardening, traveling, Ole Miss events and sports and visiting with family and friends.

The legacy he leaves for his loved ones is his steadfast faith in his Lord in all circumstances, his humble gratitude expressed to God in prayer before each meal and the example of how to live life as a gentleman. He urged children to seek as much education as possible.

Visitation will be 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 13, 2019 in the Great Hall of Christ United Methodist Church of Jackson with funeral services to follow in the Sanctuary at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Christ United Methodist Church at 6000 Old Canton Rd, Jackson, MS 39211 or the University of Mississippi’s School of Education at 406 University Avenue Oxford, MS 38655.


  • Pamela Smith, Wife
  • Jean Vaughan Smith, Daughter
  • Susan and husband Hunter Pratt, Daughter
  • Nancy Smith, Daughter
  • Janet and husband Herb Fanning, Daughter
  • Mr. Smith also leaves his grandchildren: Ashley Vaughan, Bradley Pratt (Lelia), McCharen Johnson (Andrew), and Wes, Court and Claire Fanning; three great grandchildren: Cole, Abby, and Betty Pratt; sister: Maudine Nolen; and many nephews and nieces to cherish his memory.

  • Ashley Vaughan
  • Bradley Pratt
  • McCharen Pratt Johnson
  • Wes Fanning
  • Court Fanning
  • Claire Fanning
  • The New Yorker's Sunday School Class, Christ United Methodist Church

  • Christ United Methodist Church
  • University of Mississippi's School of Education


  • Visitation Thursday, June 13, 2019
  • Memorial Service Thursday, June 13, 2019


Jerome Wayne Smith

have a memory or condolence to add?

tyrone keys

June 21, 2019

Mr. Smith was anointed as Callaway Hs school 1st Principal in 1966 -when integration and busing began in 70 -He was the principal for both the Callaway middle school and high school.
What many believed would be our darkest hour, ended up becoming our brightest moment.
Mr. Smith assembled one of the greatest educational and coaching staffs in school history. That combined with the students he had nurtured from middle and high hs and from different communities years earlier, he had created something amazing. The student body with their school spirit was second to none. Fans to the band were a united front. Mr. Smith in his 90"s was still attending Callaway class reunions -At age 97 Mr. Smith left us with a root to fruit model as he connected members from his 1st 1966 class and football team with past and current members last year -Mr. Smith was able to recall the name of the 1st student who scored the 1st TD in Callaway history -, Thank you, Mr. Smith, you certainly have Scored in the Biggest Game of all - You brought a group of teachers and students ages ranging from 11 to 19 under one roof in the midst of integration and unified us as One Body -Charger Nation.

Mac Nelson

June 14, 2019

I was 24 years old when Jerome hired me as speech and drama teacher at this new school called Callaway. Starting a new school was difficult in many ways, but the support and comfort he gave me and other staff made many a potentially tough day seem smooth. And I loved his sense of humor. May God wrap His arms around this wonderful man.

Haden Hughes

June 12, 2019

Mr. Smith was a great principal at Callaway. He was a fine man, and cared for all of us. We will miss him.

Tracy Oliver Farmer

June 12, 2019

Praying for God's comfort for Mr. Smith's family and friends. He was a one-in-a-million kind of person; decent, kind, warm, loving. I was lucky enough to attend Callaway while he was there and knew him before that while my siblings were at CHS. He had a great sense of humor and was incredibly fair. Mr. Smith was one of my childhood heroes. He will be missed by so many.

Kelli Heath Berry

June 11, 2019

He was with me almost my entire school years. Wonderful man - always kind - except I believed he had an electric paddle - I always tried to be real good

R. I. P. Mr Smith - Good Job ❤️

DeSha White

June 11, 2019

Mr. Smith was an outstanding principal when I was a young teacher at Green Elementary School.
My thoughts and prayers will be with his family.

Melissa Dearman

June 11, 2019

Jerome Smith by far was the best Principal ever. It was such a small world, when I entered high school at Callaway we realized we had met when I was a child when he lived in Noxapater and Louisville. My grandparents were friends of his parents. May He Rest In Peace. My prayers are with his family!

randy pues

June 11, 2019

he was a great principal in a very hard time at Callaway High in the 70's.. God rest his soul