Nola Irene Smee passed away July 13, 2020 in Topeka, KS at the age of 100 years and 8 months.
Nola was born November 12, 1919, in Clay County, KS to Cyril C. and Mabel Hemphill Smee. Her father managed a grain elevator and her mother taught school before they were married. She had one sister, Margie, now deceased.
She attended and graduated in May 1945 from National College in Kansas City. The church and Epworth League were important life determining factors in her calling to deaconess service.
She was commissioned as a Deaconess on June 19, 1945. She taught at Boyland-Haven School in Jacksonville, FL at two different times. After WWII she was a representative of the Central Kansas Conference youth for support of German children living in a British Methodist children’s home. For two years she worked for the Joint Committee on Missionary Personnel, visiting college campuses for recruitment purposes. In the interim she received an MA in Education from Northwestern University and did post-graduate work in Social Work at Scarritt College. After Boylan-Haven closed she went to Jacksonville for community center work and then to Centenary Methodist Community Center in Nashville, TN. Her last seventeen and a half year assignment was as Executive Director of Moore Community House in Biloxi, MS. She retired in December 1984.
Following retirement she moved to North Biloxi, where she renovated several houses. One was her own home and two for low-income housing. She also did volunteer work with several social service agencies, especially with the care and feeding of homeless persons, culminating in a National Jefferson Award in 1995.
In 1998, she moved to Topeka, KS to help care for her sister and brother-in-law. She also did volunteer work at several social service agencies. In 2006 she moved to Brooks-Howell in Asheville, NC, moving back to Topeka in 2013. She attended Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church and she has lived at Aldersgate Village since that time.
Nola is survived by her nieces, Judy Gatewood of Topeka and JoAnne Rupp of Colorado Springs, CO; one great niece; three great nephews; seven great-great nieces and nephews; one great-great-great nephew; cousins, Bill Hemphill of Olathe, KS and Terri Niles of Ottawa, KS.
A special, “Thank You” to the staff with Elara Hospice and Aldersgate Village for her care.
Honoring Nola’s request, cremation is planned. No services are planned at this time. Penwell-Gabel Cremations, Funerals and Receptions, 1321 SW 10th Ave., Topeka is assisting the family. Memorial contributions may be made to Moore Community House, 684 Walker St, Biloxi, MS 39530 or United Methodist Women Deaconess Office, Mission Projects, 15th floor, 475 Riverside Dr., New York, NY 10115.
Flowers should be sent to a loved one or a special friend.
To leave a message of condolence for Nola's family, or to share a special memory of Nola, click the Share Memories button above.