Obituary-Frances Arant Smith

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023

Frances Arant Smith, 101, a resident of Luverne, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Funeral services for Frances were held at 2 p.n. on Friday, Oct. 27, from the Chapel of Turners Funeral Home with Rev. Brennan Peacock officiating. She was then laid to rest beside her beloved husband, Bryce, in Luverne Emmaus Cemetery with Turners Funeral Home of Luverne directing. 

As the seventh of eight children of a farmer, at an early age she developed a strong work ethic and the knowledge to live off the land. During the winter months starting at age five, she and her older sister arose before dawn to build a fire in the fireplace, earning a nickel each week for their efforts. Being the children of frugal and forward looking parents, they were not allowed to spend that money. It had to go into a bank savings account to help pay for their college. When the stock market crashed and the bank closed, the money was gone. In spite of that, Frances followed five of her six older siblings to Alabama Polytechnic Institute, later to be renamed Auburn University. The sixth older sibling graduated from the University of Alabama.

Following her graduation in 1943, she worked with the Alabama Extension Service in Geneva County prior to taking a job with Farmers Home Security in Luverne. In this job, she worked with farmers, helping them plan a garden that, based on the size, preferences, and needs of their family, would be nutritious and sufficient to feed them. In addition, she taught them food preservation. 

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Soon after arriving in Luverne, Frances met Bryce Smith whom she married in 1946. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she was an active partner in all of Bryce’s business adventures, from land clearing and pond building to iron ore mining and oil company deliveries. In the early years of their businesses, she served as the bookkeeper while working from their home, so she could also be a stay at home mom. Many business decisions were made over lunch and dinner. 

Upon Bryce’s death in 1983, during his second term as Crenshaw County sheriff, the governor appointed Frances to finish his term. She approached this job as she did all things in life, with a “can do” attitude. Her tenure as sheriff proved to be a different and unique time in Crenshaw County, as all the elected offices – -circuit clerk, probate judge, revenue commissioner, and sheriff– were held by women. Following her time as sheriff, Frances ran Smith Oil Company until her retirement at 78 years of age. 

Frances loved all aspects of gardening-planting, tending, harvesting, and preserving. She was a conservationist and recycler her whole life. Adopting her parents’ philosophy of “waste not, want not,” she was constantly looking for ways to reuse things. Before discarding a worn out piece of clothing, she would remove the buttons to use again. She had no use for a garbage disposal; composted vegetable scraps enriched the soil, providing great nutrients for her flowers and vegetables.

Frances’ greatest accomplishment was providing a happy, loving home for her husband and three children. Later, her three grandchildren spent many happy times with her. She was always a constant in the lives of those who loved her. If any child or grandchild wanted to make, create, or build something, she would be there helping figure it out. She willingly tackled any project large or small. Her family learned so many things from her and continued to seek her advice throughout her life. Not only did she teach them a strong work ethic and how to be a productive adult, but also to be kind and compassionate. Perhaps one of her greatest lessons was to persevere with grace in the face of adversity. Whether caring for critically ill loved ones or dealing with personal blindness, she did it all without complaint. 

Frances was preceded in death by her husband, Jefferson Bryce Smith; daughter, Linda Frances Smith; parents, Frank and Mary Alice “Dovie” Arant; and siblings, Anamerle Arant, Selman Arant, Hazel Goodman, Conley Arant, Calvin Arant, Bernice Pittman, and Juila Parker. She is survived by her daughter, Wanda (Gerry) Love; son, Johnny (Laura) Smith; grandchildren, Jeff Smith, Michele Piggott, and Jonathan (Emily) Smith; great-grandchildren, Kaitlyn Piggott, Addie Piggott, Caroline Smith, and Charlotte Smith; and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family members, and friends. 

Active pallbearers were Tracy Flowers, Ricky Hall, Steve Carpenter, Bob Foster, Paul Nichols, and Tim Langford. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Alabama Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 6030 Monticello Drive, Montgomery, 36117.