Marzell Wilbert Smith, 91, of El Dorado, passed away Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, at the Medical Center of South Arkansas.
She was born Jan. 27, 1922, the second child to Shep and Gracie Williams Wilbert. She was baptized at an early age and faithfully attended New Bethel Baptist Church for many years. She later united with First Baptist Church, where she actively and faithfully served in many capacities including deaconess, Sunday School teacher, past chairman of Christian education, co-chairman of foreign mission, director of mission choir, NBC teacher and pianist, chairman of Nominating Committee, and past music director of Ouachita District Congress of Christian Education.
She was a graduate of Washington High School and received a bachelor of science in English from AM&N College, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She later earned her master’s of science degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and did advanced study at the University of Arkansas and UCLA.
She taught school in the public schools in Lake Village, Warren and El Dorado. In El Dorado she taught at Carver Elementary, Washington High and El Dorado High, where she was coordinator of English.
She was founder of the South Arkansas African American Historical Society, which was officially organized in 1999, and was founder and curator of the South Arkansas African American Museum, which officially opened in October 2003.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Nile E. Smith Sr.; five siblings, Etta Stephens, Ajeunesse Traylor, Albert Wilbert, Willie L. Wilbert and Jesse Wilbert.
Survivors include one daughter, Beverly (John) Gray of Leonardtown, Md.; three sons, Nile E. (Demetria) Smith Jr. of Tyler, Texas, Ralph (Lela) Smith, and Brian (Vada) Smith, both of El Dorado; one sister, Grace (George) Charles of Maumelle; two brothers, Walter Wilbert and Herbert Wilbert, both of Detroit; 12 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be from 4 until 6 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church on Cordell Street in El Dorado. The wake will follow from 6 until 8 p.m. at the church.
Funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the church with Dr. Nile E. Smith Jr. officiating.
Burial will follow in Lott Burgy Cemetery under the direction of Memorial Funeral Home of Farmerville, La., with repast to follow after the burial at the church.
The family will be at 710 W. Fifth St.
An online guest registry is available at www.memorialfuneralhomes.com.