In Memorial of Etta L. Smith

We are reaching out to all family, loved ones, and friends to announce the unfortunate and sorrowful loss of a beloved Great-Grandmother, Grandmother, Mother, Aunt and friend Etta L. Smith.  On October 1, 1922, she arrived into this world as Etta N. Little to be a gift to all who knew her. On August 2, 2020, complications from COVID-19 took her from us and to her to eternal rest with her Heavenly Father.50384046_1597353289803672_r.jpeg

To many, she was "Nan" or "Nana". To some, she was "Aunt Etta".  To one, she was "Mom".  To all of us, she was irreplaceable. The woman who raised and nurtured 3 generations of her family, and was the last of her generation in our family, was the keeper of our history. Our stories that explained who we were and how we mattered. 

Born in Surry County, Virginia as the youngest of 7 children born to Joe and Pattie Little (née Blunt), Etta was a lifelong advocate of education and the benefits imparted therein, which prompted her to pursue a career in education.

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Home Economics in 1944 from Virginia State University, Etta became what was then called a Home Demonstration Agent through the USDA in Lawrenceville, Virginia. Later, Etta moved to Fredericksburg, VA in 1958 where she began her formal teaching career, instructing elementary school children in Stafford, Va. After Moving to Princeton, NJ in 1963, Etta received her Master’s degree in education, and continued to teach elementary school children in Trenton, NJ through her retirement in 1989.

Etta, along with her husband, the late Reverend Edward Smith, was also a lifelong advocate for social justice. She and her husband were actively involved with the Civil Rights movement in partnership with and as members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Together, along with their lifelong friends City Councilman Weldon Bailey and wife Thelma Bailey, successfully organized the first affordable housing complex in Fredericksburg, VA. She was instrumental in supporting her husband and helping to organize student efforts to integrate schools in Stafford, Va. She was then, as were many women of her generation, an unsung hero of a movement. A firebrand in her own right, Etta was a force to behold.

After moving to Princeton in 1963, Etta was an active First Lady of First Baptist Church of Princeton, where her late husband was pastor, helping to organize one of the first federally subsidized daycare for the children of working parents while also being a working parent herself. Four years after the original daycare opening, Etta assisted in transitioning the subsidized daycare to one that was wholly owned and operated by First Baptist Church, creating jobs within the community by employing surrounding community members.

After her husband’s death, Etta was a former President of the Ladies Guild at Shiloh Baptist Church, and recipient of their Woman of the Year award.

After retirement, she was president of several clubs as an active member of the Lawrence Senior Center in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

We are kindly asking those who knew, loved and cared for Etta to assist with her funeral/memorial expenses from this unexpected and unfortunate tragedy.  We know as a nation, and specifically as a family, we are all dealing with unusual circumstances and uncertain times. Any amount is appreciated to help us send Etta home, and honor her as we are able to within the restrictions placed on us.

With sincerest thanks, 
Linda (daughter), Thulani  and Shani (granddaughters) and Avery (great-grandson).


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Fundraising team (2)

Thulani and Shani Smith 
Trenton, NJ
Shani Smith 
Team member
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