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Wilma Smith, who taught three generations of Owen contains during a 50-year career, will celebrate her 100th birthday on June 16.
Known to her students as “Miss Wilma,” she will be honored with a party at the home of her daughter, Joyce Hill Hardin, in Springfield on the 16th from 2 to 4 p.m.
Former students, friends and family are invited to come honor Miss Wilma’s dedication to the students of Owen County. Her daughter Joyce’s house is located at 310 McLain Road in Springfield. Joyce’s son, Michael Hardin, can provide directions to Joyce’s house. He can be reached at (606) 864-3274 or (606) 224-1694.
Donations in honor of Miss Wilma can be made to the Owen County Children’s Fund, P.O. Box 56, Owenton, Ky., 40359. The fund provides clothing, medical, dental and vision assistance to disadvantaged Owen County students.
In addition, Cedar Hill resident Fadana Bramblett is encouraging Owen contains to send Miss Wilma a birthday card so she can receive 100 or more cards. The cards should be addressed to Wilma Smith, 310 McLain Road, Springfield, Ky., 40069.
Wilma Smith began her teaching career at the Cedar Hill School in 1933 when she was only 20 years old. She had already begun her college studies at Cumberland College.
She taught fourth through eighth grades for the first two years at Cedar Hill.
After that, she taught all eight grades.
She continued teaching and completing her college studies and graduated from Georgetown College in 1956.
She completed her master’s degree from Georgetown in 1959. She went on to earn 30 hours above her master’s at the University of Kentucky and achieved the Rank I certification.
After Cedar Hill School closed in 1951, Miss Wilma taught at Owenton Elementary, and then closed out her career at Owen County Elementary. She retired in 1983, but continued to substitute teach for several years after that.
She had taught continually in the county since 1933, except for two years when she took time off to be a mother to her newborn baby girl, Joyce Hill, who was born in 1937.
Wilma Smith was born June 16, 1913, to Thomas and Elnora Hill of Cedar Hill. The family farm was located on what is now Elmer Davis Lake Road.
She had an older brother Cecil and two younger twin brothers, Virgil and Vivian. She is the only surviving member of the family.
When she was 5 years old, Wilma’s mother died.
Wilma had always had a dream of being a teacher. She had been inspired by her father, and practiced the skill even when she was still in school by tutoring her younger brothers.
In 1935, Wilma married Carl Smith. Later, the two of them bought the farm in Cedar Hill next door to the family farm where she grew up.
Her husband Carl passed away in 1998 at the age of 93.
Her students over the years have praised Wilma Smith’s dedication to teaching.
“I remember Miss Wilma’s tremendous love for all her students,” said June Osborne, who was a third-grade student in Miss Wilma’s class in 1970. “She is today one of my favorite teachers ever. I admire her so much.”
The thousands of students educated by Miss Wilma went on to become doctors, judges, lawyers, ministers and community leaders, not only in their native Owen County but also throughout the nation.
Her students recall that Miss Wilma had boundless energy in the classroom, and that she would often prefer to run rather than walk from one place to another or one student to another. This fast-paced teaching style earned her the nicknames of “Roadrunner” or “The White Tornado.”