Resident Spotlight: Juanita Smith


Juanita Smith

Juanita Smith (née Radcliff) was crowned Miss Wayne County of West Virginia, twice during her years of high school. Today, 87 years later, that same beauty, the sparkling eyes and the beautiful smile is still seen when looking into the face of Juanita, now 101 years old! If not for the effects of a recent stroke, one could expect to see Juanita do the Charleston, the dance she became famous for after moving to Kirby Pines.

Juanita is as beautiful now
as she was back then.

On this, the 35th anniversary of Kirby Pines Estates, we celebrate the life of Juanita Smith who has lived at Kirby Pines longer than any other resident – 29 and a half years! Having good genes (her father lived to be 102) has no doubt been a factor in her longevity. However, she exemplifies the research that individuals living in a retirement setting tend to live longer. Juanita’s eyes light up when she remembers the good times she has had while living at Kirby Pines. While her husband Charles was living, the couple captured the dance floor as they reportedly were the best Charleston dancing couple in Memphis, or, maybe the world. She enjoyed teaching other residents how to “hula-hoop”. She also enjoyed line dancing, Tai Chi, all kinds of games, the puzzle table and most of all just socializing with her friends.

Juanita and her husband, Charles, moved to Memphis in 1984 to be near their daughter, Linda. They made the decision to move to Kirby Pines in February, 1989 and entrenched themselves in the activities of Kirby Pines. They placed their church membership at Central Church.

So, what was life like for Juanita, growing up in a small community of West Virginia? Born on October 10, 1916, Juanita was one of nine children. She remembers her childhood as a happy time although times were difficult for the family. Work was scarce but her father was able to find three to four days of work each week on the railroad. Her mother canned all summer and Juanita remembers her favorite was the pickled corn and the sauerkraut available in the winter months. Her mother was a loving and compassionate person, always setting up a table on the back porch and placing food there for the “hobos”. Christmas was always a big event. All nine children received a gift, the girls always getting a doll with “a big, hard head”.

After finishing high school in 1934, Juanita worked briefly in a dime store and a beauty parlor. However, her father insisted she live at home and discouraged her working outside the home.

Charles and Juanita
Charles and Juanita in
the fall of 1987

On April 14, 1938, Juanita married Charles Smith. Charles worked as a presser in a glass factory. West Virginia is well known for its “glass houses” and beautiful glassware. A year later, Juanita gave birth to her only child, Linda. Juanita’s lifetime career centered around being a mother and homemaker.

Today Juanita Smith resides in the Gallery Manor at Kirby Pines. Her husband, Charles, died in 2007. Her daughter, Linda Sprague lives in Memphis in another retirement community. In addition, Juanita has two grandchildren, two great grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren. Her grandson Jonathan and his wife Connie, visit Juanita often.

Juanita loves to have company and reminisce about the good times at Kirby Pines. She enjoys all of the entertainment programs that are provided in The Manor. She especially looks forward to the visits of her great-grandchildren from Florida.

Hopefully, we will all remember the important date of October 10, 2018, when the big 102 will be celebrated!

All in all, a life well-lived and remembered.