JONESBORO — Mrs. Helen Elizabeth Coots McClure Smith, 82, passed away peacefully due to complications from dementia on Sept. 5, 2020. She was at home in Jonesboro and surrounded by loved ones.
Helen was born to Brisco and Ruth Coots in Cash on April 25, 1938. She grew up on the family farm where her parents and nine siblings planted and grew cotton, soybeans and rice. During childhood, she attended school and church in the Fisher community before going on to attend school in Cash.
There she played basketball and graduated salutatorian in 1956. After graduation, she continued to work picking and chopping cotton before attending Mrs. Melton’s Modern School of Business in Jonesboro.
In 1961 she moved to Abilene, Texas, where she worked for Timex from 1961 until 1966. While in Abilene, she met and married John McClure and they had a daughter, Cathy Ann. The marriage was brief. In 1966, she returned to Arkansas with her daughter.
As a single working mother, Helen began work at the Jonesboro Credit Bureau in 1966 and remained there until she retired in the late 1990s.
In 1975, she met Ray Smith. They married and enjoyed a full life together for 42 years before his death on May 25, 2017.
She was a devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend who laughed easily and enjoyed the company of others. Helen was a dedicated Christian and member of the Cash Church of Christ and later the StoneRidge Church of Christ, (formerly Stone Street), for 55 years.
She put family and God first. She was exceedingly thoughtful, sending countless cards and gifts to many on all kinds of occasions. Helen was a rock for her friends and family during times of suffering and a stable shoulder to lean on for those who were lost.
She never judged and lived by Christ’s words, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” She taught strength and character by example.
She yodeled! She had a passion for music and sang exuberantly, even in the last days of her life.
Helen loved camping, hunting and fishing with loved ones. She co-created the 1040 Wild Cherry Hunting Club in Izard County with her husband Ray where they spent many days in the outdoors with fellow hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.
She was a huge fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and was with family raucously cheering them on at game six of the 2011 World Series when the Cardinals beat the Rangers in 12 innings. She appreciated a good game.
In later years, Helen’s mind was radically affected by dementia, in ways reminiscent of her father when he struggled with Alzheimer’s. As her disease progressed, she found it increasingly difficult to make decisions and created her own saying.
When asked whether she wanted to do this or that thing, she simply answered, “Might as well, can’t swim!”
She often repeated a story of PG Moore, an apparently flamboyant local character, who was prone to announcing, “Sometimes I feel I could jump a 10-rail fence!” In a similar manner, Brisco often asked, “Do you know Rabbit Haynes?”
When people said they didn’t, Brisco would state, “Well, Rabbit Haynes said, ‘People have more fun than anybody!’”
Despite the changes that came with dementia, she never lost her positive outlook and remained happy and joyous. In the last two and one-half years of her life, she lived with her beloved niece, Jennifer and her family. This final chapter was filled with laughter and memories that we will forever hold dear.
Helen is survived by her daughter, Cathy Ann McClure; stepdaughter, Lorie Lytle; sisters, Evelyn Rosalee Coots Riggs, Joyce Geraldine Coots Cummins, Ruth Ann Coots Hudson and Janet Elaine Coots Dotson; brothers, Norman Floyd Coots and James Dale Coots; and 14 nieces, 18 nephews, many cousins and other extended family.
Her husband, Hildred Ray Smith; her father and mother, Brisco Floyd Coots and Jennie Ruth McQuay Coots; brother, Vernon Clyde Coots; sisters, Myrtle Josephine Coots Wagner and Dorothy Lorene Coots Hawkins; and nephews, Laddy LaShay Wagner, Bobby Glen Hawkins, Darrell James Coots and Craig Lee Hudson, preceded her in death.
Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, a memorial to celebrate Helen’s life will be held on a future date. Her congregation, StoneRidge Church of Christ, will offer a prayer on her behalf at their Sunday services today.
In accordance with her wishes, she is a donor at Genesis Medical Education and Research Institute in Memphis.
In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in memory of Helen Elizabeth Smith to the Alzheimer’s Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011, or online at https://www.alz.org/get-involved-now/ donate.