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Community Spotlight: Jo Ann Smith

Article Date: 
17 August, 2012 (All day)

Jo Ann Smith, Mountain Green resident for 45 years, moved here in 1967.  Her husband, Kent, used to say she was an Okie—not an Okie from Oklahoma—but from Oak City, Millard County, Utah.  She was born in Oak City in 1933, the first of seven children born to Allen Lovell and Virginia Lyman Lovell. She lived there until age 5.
Those were depression days, but she said, “I didn’t know it.”  My dad grew our own food; we hiked and played.  “I had a wonderful childhood.” Best of all: “I had a mother who read to me and taught me to love books.” We didn’t have TV or even a radio until I was older. 
At age 5, the family moved to the railroad town of Caliente, Nevada (near St. George, UT), because her dad found a job there.  First, he delivered the mail for the railroad to Panaca and Pioche, and later he was a railroad mechanic.  “Caliente had a small school but wonderful teachers,” Jo Ann said.  “I spent each summer in Oak City with my grandmother,” she added, which explains her fondness for the southern Utah town.
“Eventually, my grandparents moved to Sunset, Utah, and when I was in 8th grade, my family moved there also.  I attended both North Davis Junior High and Davis High School, graduating from the latter.  My graduating class just had our 60-year reunion,” she added, “and I was in charge of it. Even though we are old people and some in wheelchairs, it was so good to see everybody.”  This statement reflects Jo Ann’s positive and charming attitude.
Kent Smith grew up in Morgan.  He was working at the TC shop at the Arsenal, and he asked his boss if he knew a nice girl to date.  His boss replied, “As a matter of fact, I do.” He was friends with Jo Ann’s parents and had Jo Ann in mind.  Kent was introduced and Jo Ann said for her, it was love at first sight.  They were married in 1952 in the Salt Lake Temple.
Kent was a salesman when they were first married, but having done some carpentry work, wanted to try that.  He hired someone to build the family home, to move into, and when he wasn’t happy with their work, ended up finishing it himself.  This led to building more houses.  He obtained two lots in Sunset and built two houses on them to sell.
He and Dale Smedley became partners and purchased the land in the Highlands in Mountain Green.  Dale developed the land, and Kent built the houses. Some of the first homes were purchased by the Vinings, the Bakers, and the Larsens. Two of those families still live in their original Mountain Green homes and members of the family still live in the third. Kent built his family home in 1967--where Jo Ann still resides with one of her sons and his family.  All eight children grew up in Mountain Green; all went to Morgan schools and graduated from Morgan High.   
She is fortunate to have four of her children close to her.  Greg (Debi) live in Mt. Green as do Rodger (Marjalee), Bret (Pamela) and Bart (Sharon).  Stuart (Carol) live in Layton, Kirk (Lana) live in So. Weber, Matt (Tonya) live in St. George and Suzanne (their only daughter) lives with her husband, Lance, in Sandy, Utah. She has a total of 46 grand-children and 41 great-grandchildren with two more greats expected soon.
JoAnn has led a busy life: she served as a Relief Society president and young women’s president and worked in the primary.  She did extraction for the genealogy program.  In addition, she served in the San Bernadino mission when Calvin Stephens was mission president.  She also worked in the Ogden Temple for eight years.  Involved with the Festival of Trees committee for over 15 years, she says she still likes to attend each year.
Jo Ann is one of the most involved grandmothers I know.  She gives her grandchildren some unique experiences. She puts all the states in a container (with two states paired) and a grandchild draws out a paper which tells him/her which states they will visit with her.  She takes a trip each year and has traveled all the states. She said, “I don’t put in Hawaii or Alaska.”  We fly to the destination and I rent a car to see the sights.  I used to do all the driving, but now one of my own children has to come with us.  I’ve done this with most of my grandchildren when they were teenagers, but I still have a few grandchildren coming up.  She just finished a trip this year to Missouri and Iowa. She takes the younger children to her favorite place—Oak City—for a few days where she spends one-on-one (or one on two) time with them. In Delta, they can swim, go to the park, have lunch and go to the dollar store.  That sounds like any child’s dream—and the best gift of all is spending time with grandma.