Sara Jane (Rife) Smith passed away Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, following a brief but fittingly tenacious battle with cancer; she was 83. Born and raised in Kokomo, she was the only child of Alice Katherine (Mays) Rife and Howard Jennings Rife, both of whom preceded her in death.
She is survived by one son, Edward (Ted) Smith; daughter-in-law, Kate Macdonald Smith; and grandsons, Thomas and Griffin Smith, all of San Francisco, California. She also leaves behind an entire generation of now-middle-aged men and women who knew her simply and lovingly as "Fred," a badge of honor she wore proudly.
Sara was a graduate of Kokomo High School, DePauw University and Indiana University, earning degrees in education and home economics. Although she lived for a time in South Bend and in Ithaca, New York, she resided in Frankton for much of her adult life in order to be near her parents and her Mays family members, whom she loved dearly. Later in life she moved to a cottage on the shore of Lake Tippecanoe to enjoy the retirement she richly deserved. Regardless of where she called home at any given time, a hotly contested game of bridge with friends was always close at hand.
Sara was an educator at every level from kindergarten through graduate school, but her true calling was working with young children. For more than 25 years she served as a second-grade teacher at Frankton Elementary and Junior High School. Many of her fellow teachers, administrators and school employees enjoyed similarly long tenures during her time at Frankton, and she considered her decades of friendship with these wonderful people to be the richest blessing of her career.
Although family was her greatest love, Sara's most important legacy undoubtedly is the hundreds of children who passed through her second-grade classroom. Each of her "sweet peas and chickadees" was the daily recipient of a kind word, an upbeat attitude and firm guidance on that day's educational pursuits, all managed to the cadence of the small bell on her desk; despite her gentle approach, she rarely needed to ring it more than once to induce total silence in the classroom. Later in her career, when she began teaching the children of her earliest students, she delighted in telling new class members about the minor mischief carried out by their parents -- and warning them with a smile not to repeat it.
Sara believed strongly in giving back to her community and the world at large, and she was a member and/or supporter of numerous civic, religious and educational organizations. These included the American Association of University Women, DePauw University, Eastern Star, Indiana University, Frankton-Lapel Community Schools, Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, Madison County Community Foundation, North Webster United Methodist Church, PEO International, Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation and the University of Notre Dame.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a remembrance be made in Sara's name to one of these worthy organizations that was so important to her.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, and from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at Dunnichay Funeral Home, 1113 S. Anderson St., Elwood. Funeral service celebrating Sara's life will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Dunnichay Funeral Home, with Pastor Bob Dailey officiating. Burial will follow at Maplewood Cemetery in Anderson.
Online condolences may be given at www.dunnichayfuneralhome.com.
Published on February 6, 2018