Cover photo for Gretchen H. Smith's Obituary
Gretchen H. Smith Profile Photo

Gretchen H. Smith

October 26, 1941 — May 18, 2024


Gretchen Hirsch Fontan Smith, beloved wife of Joe Cambron Smith, passed peacefully from this life to eternity on May 18, 2024 under Hospice care at home in Pelahatchie, Mississippi.

Born October 26, 1941 to the parents of J. Clarence and Ella Letamendi Hirsch of New Orleans, Louisiana. She graduated from Sacred Heart Academy and studied for two years at the San Diego College for Women, California. After business school in New Orleans, she worked for the Archdiocese of New Orleans in administration for Archbishop 
Hannon. During that time she was married to Lawrence Earl Fontan and was blessed with three children (one blind from birth, two sighted). After their marriage ended she continued working days at the Chancery, going to night school, all while raising her three young children. She graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelors of Social Administration.

In 197
8 she married Joe Cambron Smith and moved to (St. Mary Parish) Verdunville, Louisiana for 13 years. She became the first president of American Council of the Blind Parents group and newsletter editor. She and Joe participated in numerous regional, national and international events. She represented children and their parents on the State Blind Services advisory committee for ten years.  In 1976 she co-founded the first main channel radio station for the blind and/or visually impaired persons, WRBH FM, full time and on the internet.

When Joe retired in 1986, they enjoyed traveling in their customized camper/truck to over 40 states experiencing its natural beauty and making lifelong friends. After many visits to Kerrville, they moved and built their dream retirement home in 1990. During their travels out west, they were adopted by the Comanche Indians. As Comanche Indians they made their own regalia, participating in powwows and ceremonies in NM, TX, LA, and OK.

She appreciated and collected various art and art styles with an affinity for South west collections. She enjoyed needle crafts of many kinds, reading, gardening, and garage/thrift store shopping when she wasn't visiting family (sometimes both). When Joe's health declined, she volunteered at St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store and the emergency room at Peterson Regional Memorial Hospital.

Her parents, brother, and husband of 38 years preceded her in death.  She is survived by Andre Fontan of New Orleans, Monique Fontan Hamilton (spouse "Mickey") of Pelahatchie, Mississippi, and Etienne Fontan (spouse Donna) of Berkeley, California. Grandchildren are Meagan Kennison Myers (partner Drew), Sean Kennison and great grandchildren Kaiah Myers, Beckett Myers, Osiris Thompson and Revan McGraw.  She included Joe's children as hers: Stephen Michael Smith, the late Jamie David Smith (spouse Terry Ellen), Robyn Smith Fox (spouse "Bob"), Terri Anne Smith Dorsey, and Amy Kathleen Smith Prigmore (spouse Jay) with 20 grandchildren and great grandchildren too numerous to count.

Because her family extends over several states, there will be two memorial services. Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Morton, Mississippi and Kerrville, Texas in the fall, awaiting further details.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests to plant a tree in her loving, caring, and giving memory.

Live, love, laugh, and be happy:)

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gretchen H. Smith, please visit our flower store.

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