Happy Birthday to you, Jan Smith

Published 1:06 pm Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jan Smith, counselor at Elvin Hill Elementary in Columbiana, was recently honored at a surprise 60th birthday party, hosted by her closest friends Janice Falkner, Rachel Fowler, Carol Hill and Linda Major.

More than 60 people greeted Smith as she entered Evan and Linda Major’s home.

“I was stunned, totally surprised,” said Smith. “I had absolutely no idea.”

Smith’s sisters and brothers-in-law were there Carol and Howard English (Birmingham) and Lynn and Ed Isom (Anniston). Former schoolteachers Paula Smith and Demisha Scrushy attended as well as a host of friends from Columbiana.

“She (Jan) is a giver, and has given so much to us as friends,” said Hill. “We wanted to give back to her this time. It was a lot of pleasure for us.”

Smith, Falkner, Fowler, Hill and Major have been friends for more than 30 years.

Smith and Hill were students at Auburn together, were neighbors on Highland Drive and their first two children were the same ages.

As young mothers and neighbors, they shared recipes, babysitting duties and everyday life.

Major’s son Fred, and Smith’s son, Ben, were best friends though school and were Boy Scouts together.

Falkner and Fowler met Smith through the Vignette Club in the early 1970s.

All five women are members of the Vignettes and share many memories of working together for the community.

The bonding of the women was cemented during a trip to Destin on the anniversary of the death of Major’s sister.

From then on, the group shared each birthday and Christmas as well as going to the movies, shopping, eating out and trips to the beach.

This year they wanted to do something special for Smith.

“We just wanted to surprise Jan,” said Major. “Usually we go out for each other’s birthdays, but Jan’s always get’s skipped because it is so near Christmas.”

“Jan is always there for you,” said Falkner. “She is a faith-centered person and a dear friend. She will be the first one to show up at hard times.”

Devoted mother, great sister, loyal friend and dedicated school counselor are Smith’s titles, but faithful, fun, positive, tenderhearted, and wise describe Jan Smith’s soul.

Happy Birthday, Jan!

Columnist Phoebe Robinson can be reached by e–mail at phoeberobinson@bellsouth.net.