Sirleine Minda Smith, 93, of Auburn, Indiana, passed away on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at Ashton Creek Health & Rehabilitation Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, from hip surgery complications.
She was born June 23, 1926, in Wood River, Illinois, to James Henry and Fancy “Frances” America (Murphy) Smith. She was named after her grandmother Aminda “Minda” (Woods) Smith.
During the Depression, her father moved the family to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she graduated from Southside High School in 1944, with National Honor Society recognition. She received a scholarship to Fort Wayne School of Art, with the anticipation of becoming a fashion designer.
On Sept. 13, 1947, she married the love of her life, Harold William “Bill” Smith.
In 1959, Sirleine, Harold and family moved to a small farm east of Auburn, Indiana. She centered her love on raising her four children. After the passing of her husband, Harold, in 1989, Sirleine moved from the country into the city of Auburn in 1991, where she lived her remaining years.
During her years in Auburn, Sirleine pursued a career and community interests. She was hired by the Eckhart Public Library as Assistant Librarian from 1968 to 1974, and became Library Administrator in 1974.
During her tenure as Library Administrator, Indiana state laws changed, requiring an academic degree to retain various library positions. With much vigor and determination, at the age of 53, Sirleine returned to school and received her Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Library Science from Indiana University in 1979. Thereafter, she remained a proud member of the Indiana University Alumni Association. Sirleine was designated the Outstanding Indiana Librarian in 1987, by the Indiana Library/Trustees Association. She showed her dedication by holding offices and serving on various boards and committees for Indiana libraries.
Sirleine was instrumental for many creative changes and much growth within Eckhart Public Library. Under her tenure, the library was the first in the state to digitize the card catalog and become fully automated. Among other accomplishments, Sirleine started the Tuesday Tots, Wednesday Wigglers, and Stone Soup reading programs. She was also instrumental in the microfilming of DeKalb County newspapers; the increase in the number of bound volumes of genealogical materials; the recording of oral history remembrances of Auburn; the collection of current and past photographs of DeKalb County; the switch from 16 mm films to electronic media; and the implementation of the bookmobile outreach program to city and DeKalb County patrons.
In her last years as library Administrator, she laid the groundwork for a major expansion of the library through her efforts with an architect on various expansion designs, funding preparations, receiving public input, and enhancing the beauty of the library fountain, always mindful to honor Charles Eckhart’s legacy. Sirleine retired in 1992, after serving more than 24 years with Eckhart Public Library.
Sirleine was very active in literary functions. She helped charter the Friends of the Eckhart Public Library organization and then served on its board. Sirleine was a member and served on the board of Kenwigs Literary Club. She also initiated pre-school children’s reading programs and other various library programs, and she volunteered for Terra Firma Early Literacy Foundation. With much pride, in 2017, she established a lasting legacy with an annual scholarship through the Community Foundation DeKalb County for an individual pursuing a career in library science.
As well as spending many years with the library, Sirleine was also a former substitute teacher in DeKalb County schools and served on the board of DeKalb County Community Concert Association. She was also a valued member of Auburn Presbyterian Church, where she had contributed as a Sunday school teacher and an Elder.
Sirleine was an active participant in organizations far and wide. She was a charter member of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, board member of Auburn Arts Commission, which orchestrated beautiful statues around town and other projects. Sirleine was a member of Auburn Red Hat Doozies, Fort Wayne Red Roses and Purple Pansies Red Hats, and, formerly, the Auburn Scarlet O’Hats. Sirleine was previously active in the Fort Wayne Collectors Club, Auburn Improvement Association, Business and Professional Women, and ANEW-Auburn Network of Enterprising Women.
Sirleine actively supported Boy Scout Troop 169 with a scholarship fund, where her husband Harold was a past Scoutmaster, and her sons, Roger and Barry, were active members.
Despite being incredibly active in the community and her other interests, to Sirleine, friends and family always came first. Some of her last words were of concern for friends that she did not want to leave.
Sirleine had four wonderful children; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Daughter, Cynthia “Cindy” (Smith) Sanxter, who passed away in 2010, had two children. Son, Branyan Sanxter, who married Esmeralda Ojeda have three children, William, Landon, and Cyana. Daughter, Channing Sanxter who married Isaac Benoit, have one child, Chase.
The second child of Sirleine is son, Roger Smith, who married Elizabeth "Betty" (Nance)-Smith, of Los Alamos, New Mexico. They have two daughters, Sheriden Smith and Sonja Smith, who married Samuel Elson.
Sirleine’s third child is son, Barry Smith who married Leabeth (Scattergood) Smith, both of Auburn, Indiana. They have two daughters, Amy Smith, who married Christopher Dooley who have two children Kyle and Kaleb, and daughter, Sara Smith, who married Willie Karashin who have two children William “Liam” and Elijah.
Sirleine’s youngest daughter is Susan Smith, who married James Scholtes, of Nebraska. They have three children, Taya Scholtes who married Robert Espinosa, Whitney Scholtes who married Derek Rockey, and Cidnee Scholtes.
Private family graveside service will take place. The family will hold a memorial service at a later date.
Memorials may be made to the Auburn Presbyterian Church or to the Sirleine M. Smith Library Science Scholarship through the Community Foundation DeKalb County.
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