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Tuesday, December 27, 2022
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Wednesday, December 28, 2022
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Funeral services for Patricia Ann (Rumsey) Smith, 84, of Sperry, OK, were held Wednesday, December 28, 2022, at Community of Christ Church in Sperry, OK. Elder Phyllis Gaddy and Elder Charles Rowden officiated, and burial was in Rest Haven Cemetery in Sperry, OK. Casket bearers were Cdr. Brandon D. Smith, Christopher C. Greggs, MSgt. Parker Lee Smith, Carson Smith, William D. Greggs, and Parker G. Smith. Honorary Casket bearers were Dr. Justin Brent Smith, Lt. Col. Kenneth Y. Louie, Selena Greggs, Dr. Ashley D. Louie, and Tierney Houck Smith.
Patricia was born on June 24, 1938, at the family home east of Sperry, OK to Dr. Dwight and Lorene Rumsey. She passed away December 21, 2022, in Tulsa, OK.
As their first child had died of leukemia at a very young age, the birth of this baby girl was a welcome blessing. The beloved Dr. Buel Humphreys delivered her, with the help of her grandmother, Leona Rumsey. As a young child, Patricia and her family lived between Kansas City, MO and Sperry while her father studied at Kansas City Dental school to become a dentist. A younger brother, Dwight Wayne Rumsey, joined the family on March 7, 1941.
When Patricia’s father completed dental school, he joined the Navy as a dentist, as the Nation was at war. The family joined him in Pensacola, Florida but moved back to Sperry when Dwight was deployed to the Pacific theater, just in time for Patricia to begin elementary school. These were some difficult times for her family; the uncertainty of having her father an ocean away at war, gas lights, an outhouse, and a number three washtub were things she grew up with. Her father was still serving abroad when, at 9 years old, Patricia suffered a ruptured appendix, and her life was saved by the same Dr. Humphreys who delivered her. At the same time, her grandfather, Ward Rumsey, was hospitalized with a cerebral hemorrhage. The faith and strength of her mother, Lorene, were tested – but for those who remember Lorene, you know that she rose to those and many other challenges. As a young girl, Patricia loved school but was not necessarily a good student. One of her most embarrassing moments was in the sixth grade when she received an “F” in spelling. Her father was President of the Sperry School Board so she (mistakenly) thought that there was no way the teacher would give her a failing grade. But she was wrong. And those who enjoyed the privilege of contributing to this obituary today can tell you that her spelling did not measurably improve over the course of her life. In high school, Patricia was involved in everything. Her life revolved around her extended family, church, and school. She excelled in social activities and home economics. She played the piano for assemblies and loved all sports - but recalled that she was not good at any of them. She was the 4-H queen and won a prize for the dress her mother helped her make. During her junior year at Sperry High School, Patricia met the love of her life: a roughneck from Arkansas called Smitty passing through on a drilling rig. Her girlfriend was also dating an oil field hand and she told the friend group that Smitty needed a date. The girls flipped a coin to see who that would be, and Patricia lost. The rest, as they say, is history. Just 3 weeks later, they eloped to Claremore, where they were married in the First Baptist Church. The only witnesses to the wedding were the Minister, the Minister’s wife, who served as Patricia’s attendant, and the filling station attendant from across the street, who closed his station to serve as a witness and stand with Smitty. It was not until they signed the marriage certificate that Patricia learned Smitty’s full real name – George David Smith.
Patricia called her mother to say she was not coming home for supper because she just got married. Her mother’s response was “Oh my God – who to?” News spreads fast in a small town, and in the time that it took them to drive home, it had spread through Sperry. Her little brother, who said he always got blamed for everything, left the house before Patricia and George arrived because he said he wanted no part of the fireworks to follow. But there were no fireworks. Dwight and Lorene – possibly recalling the tender ages at which they too were married – while high school sweethearts – only asked the young couple to go tell her grandparents themselves. Patricia remembered those conversations as the hard part. Despite this abrupt beginning to the relationship, George quickly became a deeply loved son-in-law and the Smiths and Rumsey’s became fast friends, travel companions and shared many adventures over the years. The newlyweds soon left for Arkansas, to meet the Smith family, who welcomed Patricia with open arms. George and Patricia briefly lived in a hotel room while George worked on a drilling rig in Kansas. When George had any time off, the couple would visit Sperry and stay with Patricia’s parents. Soon, the couple built a little three-room house (nicknamed the weaning pen – across from what is now Mack Taylor Park) just in time for Patricia to begin her senior year at Sperry High School. At the same time, George, with his new father-in-law’s encouragement, enrolled at the University of Tulsa. Patricia began work at Purnell’s Drug store after school, which did not last long. In November she was expecting a baby, and the smell of the ice cream nauseated her. At that time, expectant mothers were not permitted to attend school. However, Howard Brooks, the principal of Sperry High School, appealed to the school board and Patricia and her expectant friend, Barbara (Duncan) Tiblow, were able to finish their senior years. Patricia and Barbara always said their sons crossed the graduation stage twice.
Patricia graduated from high school in May 1956. One month later, in June, George and Patricia celebrated their first anniversary, and, on June 12, 1956, welcomed their first son, Dwight Lee Smith, and Patricia then turned 18 on June 24th. What a year! Patricia began work at a bank in Tulsa in 1957 with a monthly salary of $100. George continued school and worked during summers. One semester he attended Northeastern University during the week and commuted home for weekends. That was a long semester for the little family and weekends were not long enough. Patricia later began work at an orthopedic clinic and George managed City Ice Delivery in Tulsa. Life was good, but the little three-room house was getting very crowded, so they purchased a house in Tulsa. It was a trying time as George was working very long hours during the summer and then Patricia’s job ended. The family made the decision to return to Sperry. Patricia’s paternal grandmother, Leona Rumsey, made a temporary offer to share her home as Grandpa Ward Rumsey had passed away. George and Patricia used the garage as their bedroom while Dwight enjoyed a bedroom inside the house with his great-grandmother. It was a wonderful arrangement and a happy time. Patricia asked to buy an acre of land from her maternal Grandmother, Estella Park, who agreed, conveying to the Smiths one acre of part of her original Osage allotment. There, construction began on a new home. While working at the Orthopedic Clinic, Patricia befriended a nurse, to whom she confided that the couple sought to adopt a child. As fate would have it, the nurse called one cold December day to say there was a baby in the hospital who was available for immediate adoption. The couple was still living with Grandmother Rumsey and the only money in their account was from the sale of their Tulsa home. But George and Patricia accepted God’s gift of a son, Paul Allen Smith, born December 20, 1962. George and Patricia brought Paul home from the hospital on Christmas Eve. Patricia always called him their Christmas miracle.
Their new home was then completed in October of 1963 and the family was finally settled in the Osage which Patricia would call home for the remainder of her days.
After several years as a homemaker – supplementing the family income by babysitting friends’ children – Patricia and her mother joined Weight Watchers. After reaching her weight-loss goal, Patricia became a Weight Watchers lecturer. She established a new meeting location in Sperry at the Community of Christ Church. Under her direction, attendance grew rapidly to more than 100 members, necessitating a second well-attended meeting. Patricia was invited to travel to various Weight Watcher meetings to lecture or assist with organization. Patricia and her Sperry meetings were recognized at a state conference as one of the top Weight Watchers’ sites. Patricia next began work with Tulsa Public Schools as the secretary of the maintenance department. However, she wanted to be home with her sons during summers, so she transferred to a secretarial job at Cherokee Elementary School. While at Cherokee, another life-altering miracle happened. Patricia met and instantly loved a beautiful 9-year-old girl enrolled in the school. Through an improbable chain of events, Shellie became part of the family. Through much prayer, patience, and love, George and Patricia had a family of 5. Patricia said of her children, “we were blessed with a God-given, a God-sent and a God-directed.” Life was good, revolving around family, church, community, and school. Patricia was so proud to see her three children graduate from Sperry High School. Dwight attended the University of Tulsa where he earned undergraduate and law degrees, and Paul realized his dream of playing football for Barry Switzer and the Oklahoma Sooners and then earned a master’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma. After they became empty nesters, and Patricia’s mother died in 1990, they moved across the pond into the home of Lorene and Dwight Rumsey and renovated the home and quickly made it their own. George retired from MAPCO, but fairly quickly unretired and went to work at the Exchange Bank in Skiatook. Not too long after becoming eligible to do so, Patricia retired from the Tulsa Public Schools as an administrative assistant to the Superintendent in 1994. But shortly thereafter, she went back to work for Dr. Mary Rineer, a Clinical Psychologist in Tulsa. But it wasn’t too long until the travel bug bit George hard – they bought a big, brand-new Ford extended cab pickup truck and a 5th wheel travel trailer. When George couldn’t get Patricia on his schedule – he told her Dr. Rineer could find someone else to help her or she could stay and work but either way, he was headed to Alaska. That decision didn’t take long to make and soon they were on their way to an incredible adventure – up the ALCAN highway to spend the summer of 1997 exploring all that Alaska has to offer.
Patricia and George were well matched in their love for travel. They visited Mexico more than 10 times and took several more trips to Canada and Alaska. She twice walked on glaciers, once via a single engine sightseeing plane and once via helicopter. Patricia also traveled around Europe with her good friend Shirley Stewart. She and George enjoyed multiple Caribbean cruises and several trips with family and friends to the British Virgin Islands. They also loved domestic travel and saw much of the United States. Patricia loved the warm weather, and George loved the beach.
Patricia found profound joy in a life of service. She was a life-long member of the Community of Christ church, where she taught Sunday school and provided a ministry of music – for decades she was the pianist, organist, and music director. She had tremendous faith and spent a lot of time in prayer. She sent thousands of cards and care packages (often with a thoughtfully chosen comic cut from the “funny pages”) to family and friends. She kept Hallmark in the black. Throughout her life, Patricia was involved in several meaningful organizations, including the Sperry PTA, PEO, the Cliff and Helen Grace Harrington Education Foundation, the Red Hat Society, and the Ya Yas (a small group of high-school girlfriends who shared a life-long friendship). She was also a proud member of the Osage Nation, and later in life, became increasingly invested in her native heritage and active in tribal affairs, haranguing tribal authorities for literally years to get all of the abandoned oil wells on her homestead properly cleaned up and plugged. Patricia made the most of every minute of her life, which spanned 84 years, 5 months, and 28 days. Her family and friends will remember her for her fun, energetic, youthful spirit. Patricia’s grandchildren were particularly aware of her insatiable appetite for adventure. On a family trip to Colorado, there was significant conflict among grandchildren over who would ride on Grandma’s four-wheeler, as all grandchildren knew she would be the most maniacal driver. She whooped enthusiastically and loudly as she hit every bump and muddy puddle on the trail. At times, this sense of adventure created distress for those who loved her most. For example, one day Paul visited his parents only to discover Patricia at the controls of the tractor, with George hoisted high, standing in the front loader’s bucket and running a chainsaw to trim what was obviously a very bothersome tree branch.
More than anything, Patricia loved and was deeply loved by her family. She was happiest in the presence of her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She remained close to her cousins and – as one of the three “generals” was instrumental in the planning of many Park family reunions. Patricia was a wonderful holiday host and was infamous for her highly protected Christmas punch recipe. One year, when the first grandchildren were still young, it was noted that several grandchildren fell fast asleep shortly after consuming the punch. An appropriate inquiry was made as to the ingredients, which included amaretto. Unfazed – Patricia confidently reassured all parents that the punch had been previously frozen so, obviously (at least to her), all the alcohol had been “frozen out” and the punch was kid safe. Her family never let her forget that one. Patricia gave her grandchildren endless love and encouragement. She bought new shoes before each school year, took them to see every Disney movie in the theater, made popcorn on the stove-top, and made the best blackberry jam. Her grandchildren will thank her every year as they decorate their own Christmas trees with ornaments studiously and painstakingly picked each year specifically for each grandchild. And she never missed an opportunity to tell each of her grandchildren how proud she was of them.
On the occasion of her 62nd wedding anniversary, Ms. Debra Burch, a long time Sperry educator, and now Sperry’s mayor, observed: “What an honored couple to have loved for 62 years, produced wonderful children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren - proof of God's love for us and that the promise of the future begins with one love.”
Ultimately, Patricia’s family is comforted by the knowledge that she died how she lived – without fear or hesitation and looking forward to better things to come. Longfellow wrote that “Hearts that long have ceased to beat remain to throb in hearts that are or are to be. . . . .”
Patricia will always remain dear to the hearts of all those she loved.
She is survived by her husband of 67 years, 6 months, and 13 days, George David Smith. She also leaves behind her children, Dwight Smith (Vicki), Paul Smith, and Shellie Greggs, as well as her grandchildren, Commander Brandon Smith (Tierney), Dr. Ashley Louie (Kenneth); MSgt. Parker Smith, Christopher Greggs, William Greggs, Selena Greggs, Carson Smith, and Parker Smith. Her legacy of love will continue through her 9 great-grandchildren and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, her beloved church family, and many, many dear friends.
Patricia was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Dwight W. and Lorene E. Rumsey, and brothers Preston and Dwight W. Rumsey.
Arrangements and services were entrusted to Johnson Funeral Home, Sperry.
Online condolences to the family can be made at johnsonsperry.com.