Gwendolyn (Glynn) Smith
January 9, 2018
January 9, 2018
Born July 5th, (sometime last century) in Chicago to Dr. James Douglas and Charlotte Beffa Glynn, Gwendolyn Marie Glynn began a life of wanderlust and inspiration.
Growing up in Lancaster WI, she was the middle child with two brothers, James and Jerome. There she attended private Catholic school, became a passionate piano player, and spent the majority of her early years. Post WWII, after a prewar stint in the next city, the family uprooted and made downtown Austin their home. It was there she would finish high school, become Austin’s first female lifeguard and go on to The University of Texas. And here is where the story takes off….
Sometime her junior year she made the executive decision, remember this is the 50’s, to bail out of UT. The Doctor, Dad, was not going to have her sitting around the house and asked what she planned to do with this new-found time off to which she replied she wanted to fly for an airline. Being a man of action, the phone book came out, American Airlines happened to be closed but Braniff was taking calls and applications. Her employment had begun.
Flying internationally, she spent time in many a place. On extended days off, for $15, she would triangulate to Cuba, Lima, Rio and home (this is the same time period as the Rat Pack running around Havana). Stories of hikes to ruins in Peru and unloading passengers to help push a plane back onto the runway were still being reminisced until recently. Somewhere during this period, all this apparent stress was overwhelming and she uprooted again, and moved to Spain.
Spain was home for a year. It was here she ran around Europe in an MG Roadster, top down, caution to the wind. Her travel bug continued, visiting different countries and feeding the wanderlust. She was a consummate student of learning, be it book or adventure. Years later being quizzed by her son about the convertible, she nonchalantly said it was time to come home and she left it. In leaving it meaning, one random weekday she parked it top down, placed the keys on the seat, and walked into an airport.
Gwendolyn met Edward Smith Jr. in 1962 through a friend of her brothers, they married on New Year’s Eve 1966. Gwendolyn would often say he’d still be eating bologna sandwiches if it weren’t for her, there is a consensus. She finished her degree in Political Science during this time at UofH, night courses, while working for one of the oil conglomerates. Children came next with Edward III, Charlotte, and Douglas all arriving during the late 60’s and early 70’s. She put travel on hold and became a proud stay at home mother. When not monitoring the shenanigans of three wild little ones she was a voracious reader, on any number of subjects, fact or fiction. The library was used as often as the grocery store. Gwen was never without a book, to the extent during some quiet moment, she would pull out a mini copy of the US Constitution she kept in her purse.
During the next couple decades, while raising a family, she founded the Republican Party of Washington County, its first meeting being held in the living room of the Market St residence. With kids further along in school she became Compliance Officer at Chappell Hill Bank before, years later, being terminated by the current sitting president. An event that took days of negotiation in order for the bank to avoid paying unemployment.
The travel bug gained new momentum with young adult children, two of which lived abroad at various times. She spent time on the back of mopeds in Greece, touring Italy, (secretly securing a rock from the Vatican grounds), and northern Africa. A random call suggesting she meet her daughter in Casablanca manifested in only a couple days. She would walk into the room and say, let’s go to the airport, see what we find.
Gwendolyn was one of the fastest paced, wittiest, most intelligent women this guy ever knew, not to mention well read, caring and one amazingly devoted mother. She habitually instilled optimism, fortitude and the glass overflowing. Her absence is tangible.
She is survived by her husband of 51+ years, Edward Smith Jr, daughter and son-in-law Charlotte and Mike Matsumura, son Edward Smith III and Jennifer McConnell, Poochie, Luna, Bayou, Flash, Maggie and Tsavo.
Gwendolyn was a light where there was darkness, the beacon to guide you to safe harbors or more likely, a remote and adventurous one. She is missed.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, www.alz.org
Family visitation: Sunday, January 14th from 4-6pm
Service: Monday, January 15th at 10am in Brenham Memorial Chapel
Private interment following service at the Masonic Cemetery in Chappell Hill, Texas.
Services are in the care of Brenham Memorial Chapel, 2300 Stringer St., Brenham, TX.
979.836.3611 To share messages, visit www.BrenhamMemorialChapel.com