After a long illness, Patricia Ann Russell, 81, passed away on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, at her home near Paw Paw Lake where she was cared for by family and Hospice, living out her final days on her own terms. No more restrictions. No more medications. As many Cokes as she could drink (which was a lot), and plenty of popsicles.
Pat was born at St. Joseph, Michigan, on March 17, 1940, the second daughter of Donald and Ruth Mensinger. As a child, she dreamed of running an orphanage, which came into being when her husband, Bill Smithers, died in 1961, leaving her widowed with four children under five. Although she eventually re-married four times, having surnames of Essig, Grabowski, Knapp, and Russell, Bill remained the love of her life and her last wish was to be buried with him.
Despite being married five times, she looked at the world with the simplicity of an 11-year-old and spoke with the honesty of a child. She made everyone around her laugh, whether it was falling and landing with her head in the laundry basket, waking up in the night and yelling at the “intruder” in the mirror or waving good-bye as the train she was supposed to get off left with her still on it, because she didn’t understand that in these times you have to move quickly. As she grew older and lost her hearing, what she “heard” was absurdly different from what was said, but much more fun.
She was a garage sale shopping expert and also loved puzzles and Bingo. She moved to Texas in 1971 to escape the snow, then returned to Michigan in 1993 to care for her aging parents.
She is survived by her two sisters, Sandra Krugh of Michigan and Mitzi (Willie) Jones of Colorado and by three of her children–Teresa Smithers of Michigan, Donna (Henry) Stephens and Steve (Leia) Smithers, both of Texas, and son-in-law Mark Collins of England. She will be missed by her 12 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren, along with a host of friends and family.
So many are waiting to meet her on the other side, including her parents, a grandson, two husbands, a niece, and one daughter, Rita Collins, of England.
Pat has requested that she be cremated and her ashes placed as close to Bill Smithers’ grave as possible. A memorial is scheduled for Northshore Memory Gardens, north of St. Joseph, on Friday, September 17, 2021, at 2:00p.mPrint Obituary & Condolences