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Zip Smith had the fiery red curls of her Irish ancestors and apersonality to match Davis Smith the man who would become her husbandwrote a letter as he was courting her promising Zip to wear overalls soshe could wear furs She quipped in response Do you think I would beseen with a man who wears overalls Years later when Daviss job atStandard Oil moved him from their home in Baton Rouge Louisiana toLondon her new British friends dubbed her the Queen of America Shewas attending college when women were granted suffrage and went on tolive through the Great Depression and two World Wars before passing awayon July 13 2011 at the age of 108 Zip Smith is my great-grandmotherI used to listen to her stories of growing up in Louisiana taking abuggy to go to church on Sunday and of my great-grandfather Davis wasthe love of her life and the man with whom she built her home and herfamily He passed away in 1955 after thirty-five years of marriage Zipthen went to work for the first time in her life as a housemother in theLouisiana State University womens dormitories where she was employedfor nearly twenty yearsAs I grew older every time I visited her she would tell me how proudshe was of me This is a woman who attended college at a time when fewwomen did who traveled and who faced the challenge of starting lifefor herself without Davis with strength grace and even joy surroundedby the family they had built together and the friends she had made alongthe way She was a woman who adapted as the world changed around herwithout losing an ounce of her spirited personality or unrestrained zestfor life What matters most to me is to be a woman of whom she wouldcontinue to be proudI want her to be proud of my intelligence and my continuous desire totake advantage of every opportunity and to rise above any challenge thatcomes my
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