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Welcome to the memorial page for

Ethel Emma (Dickson) Smith

October 7, 1916 ~ August 20, 2012 (age 95)



Ethel Dickson Smith peacefully left this life on August 20, 2012 at Givens Estates, Asheville, NC.  She led a full and adventurous life.  Ethel was born in 1916 in Beijing, China to medical missionary parents.  She grew up in China, with occasional furloughs to Canada.  At age 18, she enrolled in Wilson College in Pennsylvania.  After graduation, she attended the Presbyterian School of Christian Education at Union Seminary in Richmond, VA and received a master’s degree in Christian education.  There she also met and married Reverend John Robert Smith.  Church positions and naval service in World War II led to homes in Mississippi, Virginia, Idaho, California, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia. Two daughters were born to this marriage, Mary Ellen Perry and Kathryn Vaughn Maxey. 

Mrs. Smith worked in various capacities in education.  After years of research, she wrote and published Strangers from the Sea, a 9th century saga of Norway and Scotland.

For the past 24 years, Ethel Smith lived happily at Givens Estates in Asheville.  Her enjoyment of travel led to trips in the US, Canada and overseas.  The family wishes to thank the staff at Givens Estates for all their help and care.

Ethel Smith was predeceased by her husband, John Robert Smith; her daughter, Kathryn Maxey; her sister, Katherine Rogers and brother, John Dickson.  She is survived by her daughter, Mary Ellen Perry and her husband, Douglas.  She is also survived by her son-in-law, Reverend Dennis A. Maxey and a granddaughter, Rebecca Mills, husband, Jeremy and their children, Abbey and Nathan.  Ethel Smith is also survived by sisters--Vaughn Early and Mary Ray Evans--and a brother, David Dickson.  She is also survived by many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

A memorial service was held on August 25, 2012 in the chapel at Givens Estates.  The service was led by the chaplain, Reverend Ed Hillman and by Reverend Dennis Maxey.  A graveside service will be held at noon on September 10, 2012 in Statesville, NC.

Mrs. Smith was a long-time member of Kenilworth Presbyterian Church.  The family thanks the ministers and members for their care and visits. 

Memorial contributions may be made to--Residents Assistance Fund, Givens Estates, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28803 or to Kenilworth Presbyterian Church, 123 Kenilworth Road, Asheville, NC 28803 or a charity of one’s choice,

Christian beliefs, family and friends were central to the life of Ethel Smith.  She was known for having a gracious, adaptable, thankful and encouraging nature.  Ethel Smith : a life well-lived.

The obituary may be viewed online at Asheville Citizen-Times at or at  Condolences may be posted online.

 Service Information

Memorial Service
August 25, 2012

Time: TBD
Givens Estates Chapel
100 Wesley Drive
Asheville, North Carolina 28803

Private Committal

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