Flutine "Big Mama" Smith
Flutine"Big Mama" Smith, mother of the Smith sisters, was the matriarch of the Smith family. Affectionately called Big Mama, Mrs. Flutine Smith raised her daughters to be strong, independent, and God-fearing. The Smith sisters were three girls of five marvelous children. Flutine and husband McKinley Smith raised the Smith sisters in Columbus, Mississippi where they tended to many acres of land and worked hard picking cotton. It is the foundation of Mrs. Flutine Smith that began a great legacy of strength, confidence, religion, independence, and resilience that still lives on today.
bESSIE mAE sMITH
Mrs. Bessie Mae Spencer (Smith) was an elementary school teacher in the East St. Louis School District 189 for 30 years. The oldest of the Smith sisters, Mrs. Spencer was known for her activism in her community through her coordination of the Mothers March Against Drugs to rid the city of drugs for which she believed contributed to the city's homicide rate. In 1991, she received the George Bush 294 Points of Light and the Good Neighbor Excellence Award. Mrs. Spencer was also a host parent to international students from China, Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Nigeria. She attended Mary Holmes College, Harris Stowe State College and Washington University. She also attended St. Louis University where she obtained her masters degree in education. When she wasn't teaching or working in her community, she could be found in her plentiful garden. She always started her speeches with "I'd like to give thanks to Jehovah God who is the head of my life." She instilled the bible verse, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me," in her children, nieces and nephews, and anyone she met.
eTHEL mAE sMITH
Ms. Ethel Mae Smith is a retired school teacher in the East St. Louis School District 189 for over 30 years. Ethel Mae Smith lent her knowledge to a plethora of students both inside of the classroom and outside of the classroom as a home-bound teacher. The middle daughter of the Smith sisters, Ms. Smith also taught adult GED classes for several years on the campus of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Ethel Smith dedicated her life's work to education, inspiring and influencing students all over the East St. Louis Area. She always said, "The mind is a terrible thing to waste." Ms. Ethel Smith is the only surviving Smith sister to date. Although retired, she is living proof that a good education is the one thing nobody can take from you. Some days, she still says she went to work and taught her students and gave a test. She has many sayings that she still recites to this day that include, "All things work together for the good of those that love the Lord," and "I will look to the hills from which cometh my help, my help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth."
jANNIE mAE sMITH
Ms. Jannie Mae Smith was a K-12 and elementary school teacher for many years. Ms. Jannie Smith, the youngest of the Smith sisters, received her degree in education from Washington University. Jannie Smith was an avid traveler, her passion for such led her to visit many places worldwide. Though soft spoken at times, Jannie Smith always used her voice to be an advocate for education both K-12 and higher education. Ms. Jannie Smith had many sayings, the most memorable one being, "Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." You could always find her tape recorder in her hand and hear her play gospel song, "Thank You Lord" anywhere a piano was nearby. With her sisters, Jannie Smith began the Smith tradition of hosting the annual Back to School Picnic where students would receive back to school supplies and books. Her legacy she has left behind is sweet soft spirited one full of her sweet spirit, inspiration, encouragement, and generosity.