Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Louise V. Smith, 89

| May 12, 2024 12:00 AM

Louise V. (Meeks) Smith, 89, of Kalispell, died April 26, 2024, under hospice care at the home of her daughter and son-in-law in Whitefish. She was surrounded by many of her children and grandchildren, who sang her to Heaven with “Amazing Grace” and “Sailing Towards Home” as she took her last breaths. We can imagine that our Dad/Grandpa Gene met her there with a red rose in his hand, as was his custom during their 68 years of marriage. 

She was born July 29, 1934, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the second daughter of Chester and Earline (Miller) Meeks. It was not an easy time or place to raise a family of six children, and in 1945 they moved to join some family in Kalispell, hoping for a better life. Louise finished eighth grade at Demersville School and graduated from Flathead High School in 1953. During those years she worked as a young waitress at her Grandpa Wong’s café for .25 cents an hour, Phil’s Silver Grill for .35 cents plus tips, and also at the Mayflower Café and banquet room.  

Louise first met her future husband Gene (Eugene Smith) in 1952 when he came to Kalispell from Oklahoma to visit his sister, who was the pastor’s wife at the family’s church, where Louise was very involved. Fortunately, Louise knew a truly good man when she saw him, and they were married on June 25, 1954. They lived in the Flathead Valley throughout their marriage and raised their three children in Smith Valley west of Kalispell.  

Louise and Gene had three children, Rena, Ricky and Melody. During their growing-up years, Louise was active in school events, volunteering as room mother, as a reading aid, helping with field trips and transportation, and whatever was needed to assist the teachers in the little country schools of Batavia and later Kila. She was a 4-H leader, church treasurer and board member, Sunday School teacher, youth group leader, hospital volunteer, and was active in state and national women’s church and community organizations, and Smith Valley Homemakers’ Club. Her dream career in life had been to be a wife and mother, and she excelled in that endeavor.  

Their home was always open to friends and family who needed a cup of coffee, a meal, or an extended place to stay, especially many nieces and nephews. She and Gene loved their neighborhood friends, and many weekends were spent camping together in the summer (although our family always had to return to town for church on Sunday morning) and playing cards and games at each other’s homes late into the winter nights. Because music was such a big part of Gene’s life, Louise loved to support him in that although she had zero musical ability.  Whether in their home, in church, or elsewhere, Louise was Gene’s biggest fan. And she was a faithful and steadfast friend.  

After Gene retired from McElroy and Wilken, he and Louise traveled several months each year. They loved to visit Alaska where they had family on both sides, the Caribbean, many trips to Hawaii, and all over the U.S. from coast to coast and border to border where the family lived. They also loved to eat out and had special waitress friends at many of the local establishments.  

Louise had a serious back injury from an auto accident in 1971, and after that had a lifetime of increasing pain and medical challenges. She did everything she could, for as long as she could, but eventually had to limit her activities. She focused her energies on her family and found special things to do with each of her three kids. (Lunches with Rena, antiquing with Rick, road trips with Melody.) She especially loved to attend any of the grandkids' or great-grandkids' events whenever she could and was so proud of her family. 

She was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband, Gene; her siblings, Virginia (vanderEnde) Broomfield, Iva Pedersen, Chester Meeks, and Lolita Reynolds. 

She is survived by her sister, Rebecca Saylor and husband Clyde of Portland; her sister-in-law, Donna Meeks of Anchorage; and many Smith and Meeks nieces and nephews. She is survived by and missed so much by her children and their spouses, Rena (Larry) Lautaret, Rick (Beverly) Smith, and Melody (Dennis) Ackley; her seven grandchildren, Lori (Jason) Stoffer, Rachel Lautaret, Luke (Stephany) Lautaret, David (Jill) Lautaret, Taylor (Alison) Ackley, Connor (Kattie) Ackley, Dalton (Kara) Ackley; and 11 great-grandchildren, Zoralee, Kyra, Bennett, Ziah, Hunter, Dessie, Efia, June, Emmylou, Harlan, and Calvin.

If you only knew her in recent years, you missed out on knowing the dynamic, strong, active and memorable woman of faith that she was. We want to remember and celebrate all of her nearly 90 years of life and are planning to do that at 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 9, at Flathead Ekklesia, in Gateway Community Center, west of Kalispell. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory is caring for the family.