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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 11, 2007


Bertha Mildred NELSON SMITH was born January 30, 1918 at the family farm in Guilford, MO, and died Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007 at her home in Lamoni, IA.

Mildred was the second daughter of Alma and Tony Johannah (MEINECKE) NELSON. She grew up on a farm in Guilford, Mo, where she attended country school. She was baptized a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when she was eight years old. She graduated from high school in Guilford, MO at the age of 15 in 1934. As a pre-schooler, Mildred had her older sister Lucy Marie teach her what she had learned when came home from school each day, so when she began school she was placed in the same grade as her older sister. They graduated as the two two students in their class.

Mildred taught country school, and it was during this time that she was injured in a sledding accident that left her with a large scar on her cheek. She returned to Northwest Missouri State University, where she graduated with a degree in home economics in 1941. During her years at Nortwest Missouri State University, she honed her writing skills as a member of the lower college newspaper staff and was editor the newspaper. During that time, she published a short story about what was happening to Jews in Germany using information smuggled out of Germany. This landed her in hot water with the school administration.

Following her graduation from Northwest Missouri State University, she went to work for the federal government in a Farm Security Administration project in the southest Missouir boot heel as a home economist. Her work with the poor sharecroppers, heling them ttransition from being dependent on plantation farmers to home ownership in newly built communities, is shared in her book "Delmo" Threshold of Freedom." During the war when all the men were called into the Armed Forces, Mildred was made one of the first female directors of a work camp.

An experience with the effect of poor nutrition on a coworker in the office of the work camp spurred an interest in the Word of Wisdom, a prophetic instruction on nutrition, an took her back to Iowa State University for more study. She earned a master's degree in food and nutrition in 1947, writing her master's thesis on Vitamin C. She worked for Iowa State University extension and was an associate professor of nutrition at the university. She was a teacher in one way or another all her life.

She married Delbert Deane SMITH on September 18, 1949 in Guilford, MO. He was working on his master's degree in sociology at Iowa State University at the time. When their first child was born in 1950, she took a sabbatical from working outside the home until their five children were raised. Soon after their marriage, Delbert became an appointee minister for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The family spent time in Minneapolis, MN; Hilo, HA; Lamoni, IA; Waslaco, TX; Independence, MO;; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; St. Charles, MO, and Fort Dodge, IA during their 16 years of service to the church before moving back to Lamoni for retirement. Her role as a helper to her husband in the missionary work of the church was very important to her.

Many of their testimonies of life and work for the Lord ware chonicled in two books wriiten by Mildred: "The Word of Wisdom; A Principle With Promise" which was issued in two editions, and a Word of Wisdom cookbook.

Mildred went back to work as a nutrition specialist for the University of Missouri extension when the family was assigned to St. Charles, MO, and she retired after seven years of service.

She had high expectations for her family and would always remind her children to "remember whose they were" -- speaking how their actions reflected on the other members of the family and how their actions reflected on their covenant with Christ.

She was a tireless crusader for the truth, believing that truth was found by a combination of study and faith. She was a resource for research on many topics for her family and a prolific letter writer to try to share information with everyone from church officials to family and from health quacks to Publisher's Clearing House.

Jesus Christ and his church were of utmost importance in her life. Mildred lived this commitment in everything from helping desegregate a dining room in southeast Missouri in the early 1940's to doing her best to share some new insight in the scriptures she had just discovered. She faithfully transcribed the sermons preached in the Mount Ayr Restoration Branch for the church newsletterfor many of her last years and taught a Sunday school class on the Sunday before she died.

Mildred was also a devoted mother and grandmother, serviing as number one fan for her children and grandchildren. She filled all the parental roles when Delbert was away from home for long stretches serving as a missionary. She was a devoted wife as well, spending many hours the last feew years of her life making trips to Lamoni Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to feed her husband Delbert and share time with him there.

She is survived by her husband, Delbert, of Lamoni; four sons, H. Alan and wife Valle of Mount Ayr; Ronald Kenneth and wife Diane of Lamoni; Steven Lynn and wife Elaina of Warrensburg, MO; and Douglas Dean and wife Judith of Higginsville, MO; one daughter, Karen Marie and husband David BATES of Independence, MO; three brothers, Kenneth NELSON and wife Lorna of Guilford, MO; Alma NELSON, Jr. and wife Brenda of Guilford, MO; Norman NELSON and wife Cathy of Lamoni; one sister, Winifred NEGAARD of Guilford, MO; 18 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and many other relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, sister Lucy Marie LAND and husband Helmut, sister Fiona GREENE and husband Wallace, a sister-in-law Arladene NELSON and brother-in-law Raymond NEGAARD.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, at 10:30 a.m. at the Community of Christ church in Lamoni. There will be a visitation at the Slade-O'Donnell Funeral Home in Lamoni beginning at 12 noon Friday, Oct. 12, with family greeting visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. Burial will be in Rose Hill Cemetery in Lamoni. A memorial has been established in her name by the family.

Pallbearers will be her grandsons Nathan SMITH, John SMITH, Lehi SMITH, Anan SMITH, Keston SMITH, Thoric SMITH, J. Micah BATES, Jonah BATES, Jesiah BATES, Brett SMITH and Bryan SMITH.

Providing music will be Nathan and Julie SMITH, Jan JORDISON, Michael JORD ISON and Bryan SMITH.

Slade-O'Donnell Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2012

To submit your Ringgold County obituaries, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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