Luberta Elliott Smith, the widow of the first African American elected mayor of Holly Springs, Miss., and a long-serving teacher in the Marshall County Schools system, passed on Monday at Christopher’s Personal Care Home in Holly Springs.
She was 84.
The homegoing celebration will be at Asbury United Methodist Church, 225 W. College Ave., this Saturday, May 4, at 3 p.m., with the wake also at Asbury on Friday, May 3, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Asbury United Methodist Church.
What Michelle Obama was to the United States as first lady, Luberta Smith was to Holly Springs, Miss., said Mrs. Smith’s son, Carlton E. Smith.
“Our mother was a woman of great intelligence, poise and accomplishment apart from her intelligent, poised and accomplished husband (Eddie Lee Smith Jr.). As she supported him in his pursuit of elected office and being the primary breadwinner of the household, she maintained the home-life of the family and brought excellence to the classrooms of Henry Jr. High School in Byhalia.
“She could have boasted about her scholarships and her degree from the University of North Dakota, but she stayed humble,” Smith said. “She cared more about how people treated each other than about status and wealth.”
Mrs. Smith took an early retirement from teaching in Marshall County Schools to become a full-time caregiver for her parents in their final years,” Smith said. “If you provide loving care for the elders in your life, you will be carrying the legacy of care forward from Mayor and First Lady Smith.”
Mrs. Smith gave an abundance of her time, talent and treasure to Asbury United Methodist Church, where she and her husband were faithful members. She played (piano and organ) for countless services and was very active in the United Methodist Women.
Smith noted that his father first was elected Holly Springs’ mayor 30 years ago (May 2).
“We take the possibility of a black mayor and first lady of Holly Springs for granted now, but 1989, this was not the case. Even though he won the election fair and square, confusion about the ballot made it seem that he had lost initially,” Smith recalled.
“Eddie and Luberta Smith received death threats that they protected their children from, but they never wavered in their commitment to the democratic process for all citizens.”
All this month in honor of them, the Eddie and Luberta Smith Project will be registering voters throughout Marshall County. The goal is to register hundreds of new voters between now and July 4, said Smith, the founder of the Eddie and Luberta Smith Project and a candidate for Mississippi State Senate District 10, seeking to represent Marshall and Tate Counties.
Mrs. Smith also leaves to cherish her legacy two other sons, Edwin Smith and Lee Eric Smith (assistant editor at The New Tri-State Defender), and her sister, Sandra.