Jane's Story

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Jane Schneberger Smith, aged 88, of Traverse City, passed away on June 11, 2017 with her family by her side. Jane was born in Chicago on Aug. 9, 1928 to Frank R. and Marion (Durante) Schneberger. A strong, outspoken, loving woman, she lived a life of service making the world a better place.
A graduate of Chicago's South Shore High School (1946) and the University of Colorado (Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, chemistry, 1950, where she was an active Tri Delta), Jane worked as a chemist for Griffiths Spices and Kellogg Switchboard.
In 1950 she married Z. Erol Smith Jr.; together they had six children, Suzan Mackenzie Smith, Tracy Smith Cawley, Cameron (Dan) Farley, Z Erol (Caz Taylor) Smith III, Kimberly (Cliff) Van Den Elzen and Scott (Kris) Smith. They built a home in Palos Heights, Illinois, where Jane was heavily involved with civic organizations including the Girl Scouts. From 1969 to 1974 she worked for Girl Scout Councils in Chicago and Lansing developing programs that helped girls become leaders.
In 1974 Jane became director of the Michigan State University Service Learning Center, an organization that allowed students to learn from real-world experience while giving back to the community. In selecting her for this position, over 100 applicants who all held advanced degrees, her new employer encouraged her to obtain further education. While raising her children, now as a single mother, she obtained a master's degree in communication and then a doctorate in educational administration.
She found time to serve on the board of directors of the Michigan Capitol Girl Scout Council, the Lansing Retired & Senior Volunteers Program and served as president of the East Lansing chapter of Zonta International, an organization seeking to empower women.
In 1981 with her youngest child off to college, Jane relocated to Ashland, Wisconsin, where she served as city clerk from 1981 to 1989 and then interim city administrator from 1989 to 1990 when she first tried to retire. The city, however, called her back into service as acting city clerk in both 2003 and 2006. While in Ashland, Wisconsin, she served on the boards of directors of Ashland Museum, Partners in Recovery, Friends of the Library, New Horizons, Ashland and Bayfield counties League of Women Voters, New Day Shelter, Big Top Chautauqua and the Ashland County Human Services Board. When not serving on boards she helped with the day-to-day work of numerous organizations including the Ashland Water and Wastewater Utility, Ashland Beautification Committee, the Alliance for Sustainability, Restore the Depot and the Tree Board. She served on the City of Ashland Planning Commission, co-chaired the Ashland Comprehensive Plan Committee and its Plan Implementation Committee. She served as co-editor of a book on the history of the city, titled "Looking Backward, Moving Forward." At her 80th birthday celebration a former mayor, noting that many residents thought you had to be born in Ashland to be considered a true local, read a proclamation declaring her to be a "born-again Ashlander."
She had a lifelong interest in history and in the stories behind family trees, publishing her own family's history ("Roots and Wings" in 2002). She shared these stories with her children and grandchildren, Joel, Meghan, Danny, Zach, Christian, Josh, Brianne, Kristen and Hazel, and five great-grandchildren.
In 2010 she moved to Traverse City into the Glen Eagle Retirement Community, where she provided ancestry research for over 100 residents.
Throughout her life she loved nothing better than to have her hands in the soil, planting her garden. She was known for her tirelessness, her tenacity and her sense of humor. She was proud of what she was able to accomplish while working in her community, prouder still of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and will be remembered for the love she gave us all.
A celebration of her life will be held in Ashland, Wisconsin, the weekend of August 12 and 13.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Downtown Flower Project, City of Ashland, 601 West Main St., Ashland, WI 54806; or the New Day Shelter at http://www.ndshelter.org/.
Published on June 14, 2017
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