In the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 4, 2020, Bonnie Lowder Smith, wife of Roger Smith, and mother to Kim Smith Yandow and Roger Smith, Jr. died quietly and peacefully at Sunrise Assisted Living Facility in Raleigh, NC. Bonnie moved to the assisted living facility in December 2019, to be near her husband, Roger Smith. Bonnie was mother, grandmother, and great grandmother to a whole host of children who loved and adored her. In return, she loved each of them, sharing their joys and caring for them as only a wonderful grandmother can do. Bonnie doubled their love and returned it to them.
Bonnie was born August 7, 1942, in Albemarle, NC, to the family of Coburn and Ethel Lowder. Both of her parents predeceased her. Her father, Coburn, was a successful farmer and businessman and her mother was an exceptional artist and homemaker. Life on West Main Street in Albemarle was full of excitement and action. Bonnie enjoyed the love and affection of brothers, Aaron and Lane, and a sister, Jane. Her brothers predeceased her, but her sister, Jane Hartsell, survives her. Her brothers and her sister enjoyed a close bond with Bonnie throughout their lives. Her sister, Jane Hartsell, lives in Albemarle. Theirs was a warm and loving family.
Early in her life, Bonnie met her great love. She was 13 years old. The love of her life was Roger Smith. He was 14 years old. Roger's brother, Wade, had a great friendship with Bonnie's brother, Aaron. One day, Wade and Aaron were painting pictures in the Lowder's upstairs playroom and when they finished, they made their way back to the first floor. And there someone was playing a piano. It was thirteen-year-old Bonnie Lowder. Wade thought she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. Wade went straight home and told Roger he must call this young girl immediately. Roger, who was fourteen, called Bonnie and that was the beginning of a great love affair that lasted from that day to this. On Saturday evenings, Bonnie’s mother and father would allow one carefully supervised outing. They made the journey to the Alameda Theater for whatever was playing. There was never any doubt that whatever was playing would be appropriate. Admission was about 20 cents each. Popcorn and a drink would be an additional 15 cents. Roger landed a job on Saturdays at Earl Whitley’s Atlantic Station, pumping gasoline and washing cars. This job provided movie money for Roger and Bonnie.
Bonnie was an excellent student. She attended Albemarle High School where she enjoyed the friendship and affection of all her classmates. They chose her to be head cheerleader and Carousel Princess. She was selected as the DAR Good Citizen and in the superlative selections of the Albemarle High School annual, she was chosen as best all around. She was a member of The National Honor Society. Bonnie did everything and she did everything well.
Bonnie graduated from Albemarle High School in 1960 and then she graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1963. She and Roger were married and settled in at the little house at 509 Pritchard Avenue in Chapel Hill, while Roger was in law school.
In 1963, having finished their education, Roger and Bonnie moved to Raleigh and settled at 2619 Wilson Lane. There, they had their family and their times. Their daughter Kim was born September 3, 1963 and their son, Roger was born January 21, 1969. Kim grew up to become America's Junior Miss. She married and brought many children to bless Bonnie and Roger. Roger Jr. became a well-known and successful trial lawyer, married, and brought three children to add to those Kim brought to her mother and dad.
In the years during which she and Roger were raising their family, Bonnie taught sixth grade in public school for five years. Thereafter, she served in significant roles in the campaigns of Governor James Hunt and later in the campaigns of Senator John Edwards and Lieutenant Governor Robert Jordan. Her fundraising acumen finally brought her to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. There her kindness and elegant demeanor made her ideal for the job of Director of Development. She played a significant role in the planning and completion of the new wing opened by the Museum in her years there. At that position, those who knew her and understood her work say that her skills and leadership were crucial and are now the stuff of legend. Bonnie was a devoted member of Junior League of Raleigh.
Bonnie was a splendid wife and mom. Her two children were her greatest joy. She was a beautiful and elegant mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She is survived by her husband of 57 years, Roger W. Smith and by her sister Jane Hartsell of Albemarle. She is survived by her daughter, Kim Yandow, and husband, Chris Yandow; by Kim's daughter Rachel and her husband Michael Kitto and their children, Curtis, Evan and Caroline; by Kim's son Jesse Lanham and his wife Alysha and their children Lucy, Charlie and William; by Kim's son Christopher Lanham, his wife Rachel and their daughter Lyla; by Kim's son Michael Lanham and his wife Erin and their son, Eli; by Kim's son Braden Lanham and his son, Samson; by Chris' daughter Sarah Yandow; by Kim’s daughter Eliza Jones and her husband Josh and their children, Ethel and Adam; by Chris’ daughter Hannah Yandow; by Kim's son Mark Lanham; and by Kim and Chris' son Jonathan Yandow. She is survived by her son, Roger Smith, Jr., his wife Leigh Ann and their children William, Stella, and Garner.
A visitation will be held on Monday, May 11, 2020 from 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM at Hartsell Funeral Home. The family will gather for a private celebration of Bonnie's life at the graveside in Oakwood Cemetery on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 1:00 PM. A public celebration of her life will be announced at a future date.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, gifts be made to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, 11 W. Jones St., Raleigh, NC 27601.
Hartsell Funeral Home of Albemarle is serving the Smith family. Online condolences may be made at www.hartsellfh.com
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