Lula Jane Smith ended her 94 year journey on April 30, 2015. She descended from Rhoda Strong and Henry Berry Lowry, legends of Indian history in Robeson County, through Grandmother Polly and her mother, Willie Locklear. Lula Jane forged her own legend.
Born on January 26, 1921 she grew up in poverty, but rich in spirit. She excelled in school, earning a B.A. from Pembroke State College for Indians in 1944. In 1941, she married her college sweetheart, Joe Smith. Determined to live a full life free from cultural/racial bias, they moved to a tiny Cary in 1952 with two youngsters and stayed the rest of their lives. Joseph W. Smith died in 2001.
Jane became a teaching phenom, beginning in the Indian high schools of Robeson county in 1944. At Cary High School from 1952-1972, she taught languages, primarily Spanish. Jane earned a M.Ed. at UNC-CH in 1955. She coordinated foreign language and bilingual programs for Wake County from 1972-1982. Her professional development included election as President of Wake County NCEA in 1964. She was a charter member of the NC Association School Administrators, a charter member of Wake County’s chapter of educator’s national ADK, and a charter member of the newest local chapter of ADK. Jane funded a chapter scholarship in 1988.
Jane and Joe were active Methodists, anchored to First United Methodist of Cary. She was President of the Wesleyan Guild, Conference Chair of Guild Missionary projects, and member of Conference Council of Ministries. She served on the Board of the Methodist Home for Children. She authored and published The Lumbee Methodists, Getting to Know Them: A Folk History.
Jane was a civic activist: with the Wake 400th Anniversary Committee; Chair of the State Committee for Year of the Native American in 1986; on the Board of The Women’s Center of Raleigh.
In retirement, Jane was a Docent at the Museum of Art, and Clerk for Representative Dial at the General Assembly.
In private Jane was a wonderful sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and Aunt Lula to dozens. She counseled and inspired hundreds.
She is survived by her daughter, Pat and husband, Patrick Sweeney; son, Mike; grandchildren, Patrick and Allison Sweeney, Michael and Lindsey Sweeney, Jane Anne and Evans Anderson Jr., Walt and Julie Smith, Alex Smith, Lynn and Jerome Johnson; great-grandchildren, Grace, Katie, Audrey, Evans III, Morgan, Carter, Austin, Jacob, Josie, and Violet; sisters, Ruby Hammonds, Melba Locklear, Dot and Tom Kennihan, brothers, John H. Locklear, Sam and Effie Locklear, and George Locklear.
Special thanks to Dr. Crittenden, the Home Instead staff and Transitions LifeCare.
The family will receive friends from 4-6pm on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at Brown-Wynne, 200 SE Maynard Road, Cary. A funeral service will be held 11:00am Monday, May 4, 2015 at First United Methodist Church, 117 S. Academy Street, Cary. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery in Cary.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The ADK Jane Smith Scholarship, 10401 Durant Road, Raleigh, NC 27614 or Pearlie Locklear Scholarship at UNC-P, 1 University Drive, Pembroke, NC 28372.
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