Anna Lee Smith Garner died on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at the age 103. She was born in Cleveland County, Arkansas, in the community that is now known as Smith Chapel. She was the daughter of Maude and Rufus Smith. She was predeceased by her husband, Herschel Rutledge Garner, whom she married on May 10, 1934, five days after graduating from Rison High School. Anna Lee and Herschel celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary a few months before his death in 2009.
She was also predeceased by three brothers, Calip, Kit and Max Smith. Anna Lee is survived by her children, Herschel S. Garner (Yolanda), Nancy Garner (Mort Gitelman), Betsy Golden (Jimmy) and Lisa Douglass. Also surviving are nine grandchildren, Steve Garner (Juanita), Angie Heifner (Kevin), Martha Drennan (Donny), Julie Patterson (Bryan), Jason Watson, Brad Watson (Suzanne), Gary Golden (Machaela), Russ Golden (Lori) and Anna Ruth Douglass, fourteen great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
Anna Lee had fascinating stories to tell of her early school days. From her home on the farm to school in Kingsland was some five miles over dirt, or at best, gravel roads. The earliest way she and her brothers got to school was in a covered wagon, a small version of the wagons used by wagon trains traveling west. To stay warm in the winter, she said they would heat bricks on the hearth of the fireplace, put them on the floor of the wagon and rest their feet on them. Later on, they went to school in a Model T. Her first driving experience was when the Model T got stuck in a mud hole and her three brothers had her get in the drivers’ seat while they pushed. Once the car reached firm ground it began to move on its own. She didn’t know how to apply the brakes, so her brothers had to run to catch up and get the car to stop.
Anna Lee was known as a great cook, having helped her mother cook at the age of six when she had to stand in a chair to see the cabinet top. She only stopped cooking 90 years later when her eyesight began to fail. Her life was dedicated to being a wife to Herschel and mother to her four children. She was a longtime member of Rison Baptist Church, having served as pianist for the youth choir when her children were teenagers, and served as a member of various other church committees over the years. She was also active in the Rison PTA, home room mother for her children’s classes, band parents, Rison Garden Club, and Greenwood Cemetery Association. Anna Lee and Herschel were two of the founding members of the Cleveland County Historical Association and the Cleveland County Arts and Crafts Festival. Anna Lee was former board member of the Arkansas Genealogy Society and Cleveland County Farmers Home Administration Board. She was the perfect example of a fine Christian, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
Funeral services will be held 2:00 p.m., Saturday, June 8, 2019 at Rison Baptist Church with Brother Danny Allen officiating. Interment will follow at Greenwood Cemetery in Rison. Visitation will be from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m., Friday, June 7, 2019 at Buie Funeral Home in Rison. In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials be made to the Greenwood Cemetery Association, P. O. Box 514, Rison, Arkansas 71665. Arrangements are by Buie Funeral Home of Rison.