Ruby Georgia Burris Smith, age 91, passed away Monday, Oct. 20, 2008, in the home of her daughter, Mary, where she lived for the past 10 years.
Ruby was born November 13, 1916, to George Marshall and Sudie Kate Clevidence Burris, in their home near Bucyrus, Texas County, Missouri. Ruby was the thirteenth child of Marshall and Sudie’s blended family.
Wilbert Rufus Smith, her best friend and husband of 43 years, preceded her in death. Also, her parents Marshall and Sudie Clevidence Burris; Wilbert’s parents, whom she loved and cared for, Charles Travis and Arelia Ruth Sutton Smith; grandparents, William Thomas and Eliza Jane Berstler Burris and Felix Andrew and Phoeba Jane Artman Clevidence; 12 siblings, Sudie and John Whisler’s son, Velma Clyde Whisler; Marshall and Mittie McGoodwin’s children: Syrenna Ann Burris Shrigley, Lillie Myrtle Burris Bolding, William Thomas Burris, Richard Henry Burris, George Franklin Burris and his infant twin, Johnie Oren Burris, baby Mittie Burris; Marshall & Sudie’s children: Rhoda Jane Burris Garrett, Charles Marshall Burris and Wayne Felix Burris; and two sons, Charles Wilbert Smith and Gary Marshall Smith.
Ruby grew up on her parents’ farm, enjoying the wildlife and learning from her father the love and workings of farm life and nature. While it was her mother who taught her the love and art of cooking (leaving the housework and dishwashing to her sister, Rhoda, as much as possible). Ruby loved to read as a child and would even hide out in the barn loft or grainery with her cats and dog to do so. Later, her brother, Wayne, bought her a guitar and taught her chords; she often talked about playing her guitar at the creek that ran behind the house and entertaining a little rabbit that would come sit on a rock and listen. Ruby attended the first eight years of school at Prairie Point, walking the mile to and from school each day. Then she walked a mile to the school bus that took her to Houston High School where she was nicknamed ‘Joy’ for her happy carefree nature. Ruby also attended the Normal College, now MSU, in Springfield, Missouri, for a short time.
The 5th of August 1936, she became the wife, faithful companion and business partner of Wilbert. They had seven children: Charles Wilbert, Gary Marshall, Royce Artman, Rubert Sutton, Bruce Wayne, Mary Margaret and Reta Jean, who presented them with grand children, great grand children and great-great grandchildren numbering more than 75.
Ruby was involved in the lives of her children, attending school functions and welcoming their friends into the home (most often without notice). Their children were all taught the importance of work through sharing in the tasks of farm life and the business world, as well as how to get along with people.
Ruby was always found at Wilbert’s side in whatever work they undertook. Ruby wore many hats working as a substitute teacher, many times taking her babies with her to the schoolhouse, and as a clerk when Wilbert cried an auction. During the building of highway 17 between Houston and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, she took in boarders that she cooked for on a wood stove and did laundry for in tubs with a scrub board. She worked in the C.T. Smith general store at Success, Missouri, where they were in partnership with Wilbert’s parents for a time. On the farm, she watched over the livestock and fed the cattle. For many years, Ruby was the secretary and bookkeeper for their lumber business, also selling lumber, collecting money and traveling to buy parts for the business. She managed her many jobs while she was caring for their seven children and helping to care for their parents, several bachelor uncles and two of her brothers. Ruby or Grandma Smith, as many of the grandchildren called her, spent countless hours with her many grandchildren being their taxi as she called it, teaching them life lessons in nature cooking and making work fun. Despite her busy life, she still found the time to raise large flower and vegetable gardens, and make time for her neighbors preparing large meals for family, friends, and sometimes the employees. Through all the hustle and bustle, she always saved a little time to go fishing!
Ruby is survived by five of her children: Royce and wife, Janice Faye Daniels Smith, of Springfield, Missouri; Rubert and wife, Karen Jean Hollenbeck Smith, of Solo, Missouri; Bruce and wife, Judy Ann Hayes Smith, of Springfield, Missouri; Mary and husband, Norman Jay Lankford, of Springfield, Missouri; Reta and husband, Roy Gene Gaither, of Bucyrus, Missouri; and two daughter-in-laws; Josephine Rose Denardo Smith of Batavia, Illinois, and Eunice Berniece Hale Smith of Hazelwood, Missouri. She is also survived by 22 grandchildren: William Charles Smith, Pamela Sue Hatton, Charles Travis Smith and Timothy Carlo Smith all of Chicago, Illinois, area; Gary Mark, Bradley Hank, Brian Kent, Ryan Dirk and Herbert Dean Smith of the St Louis, Missouri area; Lynne Thais Ott, Stephen Shaun Smith, Patrick Daniels Smith, Melissa Jan Cluny and Heather Eileen Hayes, all of Springfield, Missouri; Chad Rubert Smith of West Plains, Missouri; Jared Brock Smith of Houston, Missouri; Cynthia Dawn Stafford of Houston, Texas; Stanley Wilbert Smith of Springfield, Missouri; Jason Wayne Smith of Shepherdsville, West Virginia; Samantha Ann Lankford, Eryn Lanette McQueen of Springfield, Missouri; Russell Gene Gaither of Houston, Missouri; their spouses, children and grandchildren, several cousins, nieces and nephews.
Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, at Ozark Baptist Church with Dr. Howell Burkhead officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of Evans Funeral Home, Houston, Missouri. Burial will follow at the C.T. Smith Cemetery, Success, Missouri.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the C.T. Smith Cemetery at Evans Funeral Home.