Thelma Nadine Donham was born to Claude Earl “Jack” Sr and Vera Nadine (Willhour) Donham on March 14, 1934, at the family home in Wichita, Kansas. Nadine was the oldest child, followed by Nancy, Claude “Butch” Jr, Carl and Everett.
Nadine attended various Wichita grade schools before starting tenth grade at East High School. She graduated from East in the spring of 1952 and enrolled in Wesley School of Nursing that fall.
In the summer of 1953, Nadine kept the scorebook for her dad’s company fast-pitch softball team. It was here where she met Gene Smith. Gene joined the team by a friend’s invitation while on leave from the Marine Corp.
Gene and Nadine were married the next summer on July 16, 1954, at St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Wichita. That fall, she began her last year of nursing school and she graduated in 1955. She worked in a doctor’s office until 1957 when their first daughter, Robin, was born.
The young family then moved to St. Louis where Gene attended graduate school. Nadine worked third shift on the medical floor at a hospital to help support the family.
Gene and Nadine then returned to Wichita, where their second and third daughters, Enid and Peggy, were born.
In 1961, Gene and Nadine traveled to Oklahoma to attend evangelistic revival meetings. At these meetings, they both accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and established their home as one of faith and truth—a legacy that has continued for generations.
Gene returned to active duty in the Marines, and the Smiths moved to several Marine Corp bases including Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Quantico in Virginia. Nadine raised their daughters alone for one year while Gene served in the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1968.
The Smiths then moved to 29 Palms base in California where their fourth daughter, Amy, was born.
In 1970, the family moved back to their Oak Street house in Wichita so the girls could attend Berean Academy as they entered high school.
During this season, Nadine once again worked third shift hours, this time on the IV team at Wesley Medical Center. She started part-time, moved to full-time and eventually retired from Wesley after 25 years of service.
In 1990, when road construction plans made it necessary, Gene and Nadine moved to northwest Wichita. Then in 2019, after Gene experienced a severe health scare, they moved to a Schowalter Villa independent living apartment in Hesston to be closer to daughters Amy and Peggy.
In early September, an injury to Nadine’s back required surgery. Her condition declined as she experienced complications from the surgery, and she passed away on the evening of October 23 at Newton Medical Center. She was 88 years old.
In between all of these life events, Nadine never let herself be idle and enjoyed many hobbies.
She enjoyed sewing, quilting and crocheting, and she used these talents to create dresses for her young daughters, T-shirt quilts for her grandchildren and many afghans she gave as gifts.
She loved playing table games like dominoes and rummy. She also faithfully watched her favorite TV shows while she crocheted and sewed, including Blue Bloods, Jeopardy! and NCIS.
Nadine and Gene both enjoyed working outdoors, and they kept a beautiful yard and garden at their northwest Wichita house. Gene took care of the gardening while Nadine tended the flower beds.
She loved camping with Gene and the rest of her family, and they started the annual Smith camping trip at Pomme de Terre Lake in southern Missouri.
Perhaps most of all, Nadine loved supporting her children and grandchildren by attending their sporting events, musical endeavors and school or church involvements. This included sports like swimming, tennis, track, football, soccer, volleyball and basketball. They also attended band and choir concerts, graduations, baptisms and anything else happening in the lives of their grandchildren.
Family was always the priority for Nadine. She cherished times when her family joined together for holidays, birthday parties, Chiefs games or just an afternoon swim at Peggy’s pool.
Nadine was always focused on others and made sure everyone was doing well and had everything they needed. She made it clear to every member of her family that they were loved and brought something unique to the family.
Nadine was preceded in death by her parents Jack and Vera Donham, sister Nancy Soward, and brother Everett Donham.
She is survived by her husband, Eugene Smith, daughters Robin McDonald of Albia, IA, Enid (Bruce) Penner of Whitewater, Peggy (Mike) King of Hesston, and Amy (Scott) Vogt of Hesston,
grandchildren Belinda Preston, Tammie (Jesse) Maddy, Stanley (Brittany) McDonald, Wesley (Sara) McDonald, Julie (Wes) Stewart, Lonnie (Danielle) Penner, Ethan (Michaela) Penner, Toby Penner, Erin King, Ryan King, Taylor (Sam) Voisin, Caitlin King, Allyson (Loren) Pearce, Zachary Vogt, and Jordyn Vogt, 14 great-grandchildren and counting, brothers Butch (Bonnie) Donham, Carl Donham, sisters-in-law Barbara Koch and Loretta Donham, and many nieces, nephews, and other family members.
Visitation will be Thursday, October 27 at Petersen Funeral Chapel in Newton, Kansas from 5p.m. to 9 p.m. with family present from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Burial will be Friday, October 28, at Wichita Park Cemetery in Wichita, Kansas. A memorial service will be held Friday, October 28, at Hesston MB Church in Hesston, Kansas starting at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for memorial donations to be made to either Dyck Arboretum of the Plains or Berean Academy.