Winona Gale Smith, affectionately known as “Nonie,” peacefully passed away on Oct. 3, 2023, at the age of 85 in Poplar Bluff, Mo.
She spent her final years surrounded by family and the devoted staff at Oakdale Care Center in Poplar Bluff. A memorial celebration of her life will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at Evan’s Funeral Home in Houston, Mo.
On Oct. 12, 1937, Winona was born to her parents John and Elsie (Beckham) Milam in Alhambra, Calif. She attended Baldwin Park High School in Baldwin Park, Calif. She called La Puente, Calif. her home for many years and later moved to Raymondville and Houston. Later in life, she became an esteemed member of the Raymondville Methodist Church.
Being the matriarch of the family, Winona’s greatest joy in life was spending time with her children which included: Terry Morehouse, widow of Robert, Christy Boggs and husband Norm, Greg Jann and wife Tammie, John Miller and partner Connie, Dawn Kaufman and husband Dennis, Melinda Stevens and husband Harry, Cathy Rodr and husband Mike, Karen Rivera and husband Rick, Jim Barker and wife Kathy and step-daughter Donna Ellis and husband Don. Winona is also survived by her 21 beloved grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren. Winona was preceded in death by her father, John Milam, her stepmother, Gladys Milam, her mother, Elsie Gwinn, her sister, Wanda Pollock, and her husband, Donald Smith.
Her affection for her family was unmistakable through the warm hugs and countless snuggles she shared with each new addition, all beautifully captured in cherished family photographs. Many others adored her and lovingly called her Mom.
Nonie had a wide circle of close friends and actively participated in several social groups over the years. Her home was often the hub of joyous gatherings, especially during holidays. Her delectable comfort meals brought delight to all fortunate enough to taste her creations. Nonie’s wonderful sense of humor, sharp wit, sass and playful sarcasm made her the life of these gatherings.
From a young age, Winona possessed an adventurous spirit. She enjoyed extensive travel with her husband Donald in their comfortable RV, which included traveling to all 50 states. She also explored numerous foreign countries such as Germany, Holland, Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, North Africa and Venice. In her leisure time, Winona found solace in crafting and crocheting blankets for her children and creating beautiful baby blankets for new arrivals.
Winona’s final resting place will be at Boone Creek Cemetery in Licking, Mo., beside her beloved husband, Donald, and her mother, Elsie. A Celebration of Life will be hosted at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22 at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Melinda and Harry Stevens, in Yucaipa, Calif. Winona will be deeply missed by her adoring family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, with the aim of combatting this devastating disease. Your generous support may help bring an end to the suffering caused by Dementia. Online condolences may be left at www.evansfh.com. Arrangements entrusted to Evans Funeral Home.