Native to receive posthumous honor
Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 12, 2007
A Greenville native's generosity and compassion is being honored in York, South Carolina later this year.
York Place, an Episcopal Church home and residential treatment facility for children, is naming one of its new campus buildings the “Sarah Tatum Smith Dining and Assembly Hall.”
The hall is slated to be formally dedicated in September 2007, says Roberta Smith, the late honoree's daughter-in-law.
It is a fitting tribute to a woman described by Roberta's late husband Bill as a “humble humanitarian and dedicated lady.”
“Mrs. Smith grew up here in Greenville, and later moved to South Carolina and raised her five children in Gaffney,” Roberta said.
“York Place was an orphanage back in the 1930s and ‘40s. Periodically, she would take her children and their good hand-me-down clothing to the orphanage in York.”
Roberta said Bill later shared the lasting impression that childhood memory made on him.
“He truly saw from his mother's example the value of seeing first-hand, the less fortunate person you are trying to help.”
That same lesson was learned by Bill's sister, Jean Fort, currently living in Hartsville, S.C. and a frequent visitor over the years to her mother's hometown.
Remembering the family's many trips to York Place as a child, Jean grew up to become a board member at the facility, only recently resigning from long-time service to the center.
“They were taught by a loving mother, who lost her husband when the children were still young. She instilled caring and compassion for others in her children,” Roberta said.
“It's a value that has been second nature to all five of her children.”
Roberta found she had married into “a loving, kind” family.
“Mrs. Smith and the children were very active in a small Episcopal Church in Gaffney. It had only a handful of members, so everyone wore many hats,” her daughter-in-law said.
Sarah Edward Tatum Smith grew up in the Camellia City at the turn of the 20th century, the daughter of Edith Crenshaw Tatum and George Hamlet Tatum.
Her childhood was spent in the rambling two-story home on College St., then known as the Tatum House (now home to Juanita and Elisha Poole).
Born with a heart murmur, doctors said little Sarah would not live beyond her teenage years.
“That was 1901, and medicine wasn't so advanced. Fortunately, they were wrong, and she grew very strong and robust - so much so, the doctor put her on skim milk,” Roberta recalled with a smile.
“She went on to live a long life - 93 years.”
Mrs. Smith returned to Greenville in her later years and become very involved in Saint Thomas Episcopal Church. She passed away in 1994. Jean and Elizabeth McGowin of Mobile are Mrs. Smith's surviving children.
“Bill described his mother as a woman of deep and abiding faith, who constantly depended on God and prayed daily for each individual in her family,” Roberta recalled.
As she looked at a collection of family photos displayed on the wall of her home, Roberta pointed out a portrait of her late mother-in-law.
“She ran away and got married as a young girl. She was a very spirited woman throughout her long, full life.”
Sarah Tatum Smith's daughter-in-law, along with the rest of her family, say they are proud to know this dedicated lady's life of giving will be long remembered by the upcoming building dedication.
“All who knew her, loved her,” Roberta said.