Mary Nell (Callahan) Smith was born in Electric Mills, Mississippi, November 20, 1923, to the late Robert Cleon Callahan and Lena Belle (Dorman) Callahan. She died in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on October 3, 2019.
Mrs. Smith was preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Eli James “Smittie” Smith, her stepson, James Earl “Jimmy” Smith, her parents, two sisters, Helen Callahan Key and Sara Lou Callahan, brother, James Ernest Callahan, and nephew Robert F. “Bobby” Key.
She is survived by her daughter-in-law, Barbara Myers Smith of Pascagoula, son and daughter-in-law, Daniel C. and Sara Smith of Pascagoula, daughter and son-in-law, Helen Elaine and Langham Norris of Gulfport, grandchildren, Leigh (Juan) Garcia of Dublin, CA, Cynthia (Pat) Fulford of Gulf Breeze, FL, and Walter Callahan “Cal” Smith of Houston, TX, nieces, Barbara Joy Stewart of Braxton, MS, and Patsy (Walt) Blauser of Lynden, WA, eight great-grandchildren, and eleven great-great-grandchildren.
Nell was educated at Electric Mills Elementary and Jr. High Schools, and graduated high school from East Mississippi Junior College in Scooba.
She came to Pascagoula at the beginning of World War II and worked in her parents’ restaurants near the Ingalls Shipyard gates at the base of Canty Street and at the west end of Lincoln Avenue, and later at their restaurant, Callahan’s Grill, on Delmas Avenue. Nell fell in love with E.J. “Smittie” Smith, and they were married in 1943. They raised their family in Pascagoula, starting several businesses, including Smittie’s Plumbing and Heating, Smittie’s Fire Protection Service, and Smittie’s Apache Campers.
Nell and Smittie immensely enjoyed traveling, often in their camper, exploring almost every state of the Union, as well as visiting Mexico and Canada. They made many friends all over the country in locations such as their favorite camping spot, Black Rock Mountain State Park in northern Georgia. Nell also delighted in entertaining friends and family in her home for holiday celebrations, meals, and birthday parties. Nell, affectionately known as “Mama Nell,” was a wonderful cook! Her Thanksgiving dressing, Sunday pot roasts, and pound cakes were legendary.
Nell was a loyal member of the First Baptist Church for some 70 years and was active in a number of the church’s programs, including WMU, Vacation Bible School, and Sonshiners Choir. She was involved in numerous local organizations, especially the Order of the Eastern Star 151, where she served as Worthy Matron. She engaged in many local civic activities, did volunteer work for the Red Cross, and was a member of the Pascagoula Garden Club. A devoted mother, she spent many years attending the ball games, concerts, plays, recitals, and other performances of her children and grandchildren. She was a member of the famous—or infamous—“Sewing Club,” where neither needle nor thread was ever to be found, but dear friends, coffee, delicious food, and card games were always in abundance. Nell’s constant companion for most of the last fifteen years was her cat, Bob, whom she loved dearly.
Funeral services for Mrs. Smith will be at 1:00 p.m., Friday, October 11, 2019, at the First Baptist Church of Pascagoula, with Dr. Rex Yancey and Rev. Dennis Ray Smith officiating. Friends may visit from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. prior to the service. Private interment will follow at Jackson County Memorial Park in Pascagoula.
Nell’s family expresses its appreciation to the many medical professionals who provided her care down through the years, especially Dr. Terry Millette, Dr. Harris Barrett, and Dr. Christopher Semple. Also, thanks are extended to home caregivers Teri Mizell, Erica Dunning, Beverly Dry, and Laquita Shanks, to Kare Med Assisted Living personnel, especially “Ms. B.”, and to SAAD Hospice Coordinator Sarah Rumery, Nurse Gloria Kostmayer, and Chaplain John Landrum.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Mrs. Smith’s memory to the First Baptist Church of Pascagoula or the Neuropathy Action Foundation (neuropathyaction.org).
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