Juanita D. Smith

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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Juanita Durr Smith, 97, passed away on Sun., Feb. 18, 2024, in Atmore, her home for over 70 years.


She was preceded in death by her parents, Elmer and Alma Durr; her husband of 53 years, Ralph L. Smith Sr.; her sisters, Elmerita Durr Case and Maxine Durr Thompson; and her brother, Benjamin Monroe Durr.

She is survived by her beloved son, Ralph L. Smith Jr. (Tammy) of Atmore, and her beloved grandson, Ralph L. “Tray” Smith III (Stephanie) of Washington, D.C. Mrs. Smith is also survived by her sister in law, Carolyn Durr of Kingwood, Texas, and numerous nieces and nephews.

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A native of Caseyville, Miss., Smith graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in social studies and an master’s degree in counseling. She moved to Atmore in 1951.

Smith and her late husband were among the original organizers of Atmore’s First Presbyterian Church in 1953. She was an active member of the local congregation and served a term as the District Presbyterian Women’s Group president.

Her teaching career in the Atmore area spanned 31 years, including two years at Ernest Ward High School in Walnut Hill, Fla. She spent 29 years at Escambia County High School (E.C.H.S.) in Atmore, where she taught American history, served as a guidance counselor and volunteered as the faculty sponsor of annual events such as homecoming, graduation, the Junior-Senior prom, and Atmore’s Junior Miss pageant. She retired from E.C.H.S. in 1982.

In addition to her reputation as a fun and engaging educator, Smith will long be remembered in the community for her generous sharing of roses that her late husband, a professional agronomist, grew in their gardens and for her floral arranging skills.

Smith also volunteered as a Pink Lady at the Atmore Community Hospital and served a term as the auxiliary president. In later life, she was active in the Atmore Garden Club and the Atmore Historical Society. She was a devoted and loving grandmother affectionately known by her family as “Nee Nee.”

Throughout her final years, Smith was exceptionally cared for by Robin Kidd and Dianne Leslie.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. this Sun., Feb. 25, 2024, at First Presbyterian Church in Atmore, with Pastor David Todd officiating.

Smith designated the following honorary pallbearers: Cereal Daniel, John James, Jim Johnson, Dr. Tommy Moore, Mickey Salter, Dr. Steve Shirley, Dr. Bill Smith, John Speirs, Mayor Jim Staff, Dr. Gene West, Andy Wilkins and all former members of The Atmore Garden Club.

Immediately following the service, a reception will be held in the church fellowship hall.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Atmore First Presbyterian Church (208 E. Horner St., Atmore, Ala. 36502) and earmarked for the Juanita and Ralph Smith Memorial or to the charity of your choice.

Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home Inc. is in charge of arrangements.