Celia Olivia Leatherwood Smith, born on a cold day in January eighty-five years ago just a quick walk from here on the Beaumont Highway if you were going south or the Silsbee Highway if you headed north. Her parents, Jim and Irene Leatherwood were just emerging from the Great Depression. She lived and grew up here in Lumberton when it was called Loeb. There wasn't much here, a little store, a gas station and a feed store. Times were very hard and she spent much of her childhood helping her mother care for her younger brothers and sisters. When she was seventeen, she met her soul mate, Kenneth Lavon Smith from Silsbee, who became her husband on June 19, 1952. They had very little between them other than their love for each other when they started out.
Not long after they were married, Kenneth was drafted and sent away to the Korean War, but God intervened, ended the war and sent him back home to her after a brief assignment in Germany.
While her husband was away and she was still very young and as she used to say, didn't have any sense, she had their first baby in 1953. She took care of the little girl all by herself until Kenneth returned months after the baby was born. She was courageous then and said she just didn't know any better. They made their home together in Silsbee and three years later, they had their second baby, a little girl as well. The same year the baby was born, they moved into a brand new home mom had scrimped and saved to build. She was very proud of her home, although it was very small and for the next ten years, she cared for her husband and her two baby girls, teaching them honesty and integrity and how important hard work and dedication could lead to a better life for them. Her girls grew up running amuck in a big open yard full of freshly mown grass, ate fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the family garden and prepared by her own hands. The world was very different. The birds were louder, the sky was bluer and the water was sweeter.
In 1967, she and Kenneth bought a house in Lumberton near her mother, Irene Leatherwood. Oddly enough, if you could look through the trees from here you could see the top of the house they shared until 2017 when Tropical Storm Harvey saw fit to steal from them. Celia and Kenneth and her two girls lived here at the end of this very road until both girls left home. Their home was home sweet home and would have still been their home had it not been for Mother Nature and the will of God. Celia and Kenneth were both devastated by the loss of their home and all their memories after fifty years.
In 2017, after living in her mother's old homeplace for three months they bought a new home in Silsbee. The transition was extremely difficult for them both.There where they started their long life together sixty-seven years earlier, they quietly passed the last three years of that wonderful life together.
In May, less than two months ago, Kenneth passed from this world after enjoying 91 years as her devoted husband. With him went her heart and soul and today she will be laid to rest next to him in eternal rest and sweet reunion.
Celia is survived by two daughters, Brenda Eaves of Silsbee, Debbie Powell of Crestone, Colorado, one sister Carol Glanert of Jacksonville, Florida, five grandchildren, Kenneth ( of Arkansas), Danny (of Lumberton) and Dusty (of Colorado) Powell, Kenneth Gallagher of Silsbee, Celia Eaves-Cobb of Virginia. Celia is also survived by seven great-grandchildren: Logan, Larissa, Addison, Emma, and Jacob Powell, Logan Herring and Katherine Gallagher.
She will be missed by all who knew her and remembered with love and devotion. And for one last time let's remember her by the name she was used to being called "Sealy" all her life in spite of the unfortunate misspelling of her name at birth.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Celia Olivia (Leatherwood) Smith, please visit our floral store.